Everyone in the territory should be preparing now for the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which started on Monday and will continue through the end of November.
The season is forecast to be busy, bringing an above-average number of major storms to the region.
This year also brings a new wild card: The coronavirus pandemic means that the territory could be hit with an outbreak of Covid-19 and elevated lockdown measures mid-season with very little notice.
Needless to say, if major restrictions of movement are in place as a big storm approaches, preparing will be much more difficult than normal.
To understand that much, picture the crowds that typically descend on stores as storms loom. Now, add the crowds that packed stores during the three-day shopping period between lockdowns in early April.
Everyone, then, should go the extra mile to prepare now. This means stockpiling plenty of water, non-perishable food, and other emergency items (see a full list here), as well as boards, nails and similar supplies to secure buildings quickly.
Meanwhile, businesses, homeowners and public agencies alike should go ahead and complete all possible preliminary measures, including securing construction sites, yards, premises and other areas.
The government also must take the pandemic into consideration every step of the way as it plans for the storm season.
Are shelters, for instance, ready to enable social distancing? What about the National Emergency Operations Centre? In fact, where would the NEOC even meet for a major storm, given that construction has not started on a building to replace the Department of Disaster Management offices destroyed during Irma?
Is there a back-up plan in case medical facilities are compelled to balance a Covid outbreak with the health fallout from a major hurricane? One need only remember the crowds that besieged the hospital after Irma to understand the possible ramifications of a double whammy in this regard.
The added risks also mean that the usual government preparations such as clearing ghuts should be completed sooner than usual given the extra time required to carry them out while maintaining social distancing and other safe practices required by the pandemic.
Irma demonstrated the importance of thorough hurricane preparations at the best of times. This year, that lesson holds double.