With the beginning of the official 2018 Atlantic hurricane season less than four months away, government officials plan to focus their recovery energy on preparing for another potential catastrophe, according to Premier Dr. Orlando Smith.
“We recognise that everything will not be completed within that time, so what we have to focus now on is our disaster preparedness,” Dr. Smith (R-at large) explained, adding, “We have to focus on making sure that the shelters — [the buildings] that will be determined to be shelters — will be properly secured so that anybody that needs shelters will be in a safe place. And then we have to make sure that our Early Warning Systems are functioning well.”
Many of the Department of Disaster Management’s official shelters sustained heavy damage during the passage of Hurricane Irma. Some also still house residents: As of last month, about 50 people still resided in a handful of sites across Tortola and Virgin Gorda, according to DDM Director Sharleen DaBreo.
At a press conference last Thursday, Dr. Smith noted that while government is still working to help the remaining shelterees find temporary housing, it would be possible to repair the buildings and bolster their defences while they still house residents.
The National Early Warning System — which includes tsunami sirens across the territory — was also critically damaged by the two hurricanes.
In January, Cabinet approved $442,000-worth of funding to reestablish the nonfunctional network, which was not activated when a tsunami advisory was issued for the territory last month.