As has become common in recent years, experts are predicting above-average levels of activity for the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Meteorologists from Colorado State University predict 19 named storms, nine of which are likely to develop into hurricanes, with four classed as “major.”
“A pattern we have observed in recent years is systems developing before the June 1 start of the hurricane season,” Department of Disaster Management acting Director Jasen Penn said. “This means that residents would be wise to review their hurricane plans and begin seasonal preparations early.”
To help with that preparation, the BVI Red Cross welcomed community organisations to offer some inspiration at its second annual Emergency Preparedness Expo on April 12 at Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park.
“Disaster preparedness is a very big component of what we do,” said BVIRC director Stacy Lloyd. “If we’re more prepared, then we can be more resilient, and we can overcome any type of crisis, hazard or natural disaster that happens to us.”
Importance of planning
DDM Information and Education Manager Chrystall Kanyuck-Abel said the annual expo provides an opportunity to connect with community members and help them get the resources they need ahead of any disaster.
She added that this is especially important as storms are becoming more extreme and arriving earlier.
“June 1 is the start of the hurricane season, but each of the last recent seasons has had a named storm before that point,” she said, noting the need to prepare even earlier.
The department recently published a new template for household emergency plans, which includes strategies for staying in touch even if power lines fail. Households should designate a meeting place, and a backup location, in case they get separated, DDM advises.
Experts also recommend designating one person to be responsible for checking emergency supplies and ensuring that batteries are charged, that radios are tuned to a station for emergency updates, and that there is enough food and water for everyone.
Additionally, Ms. Kanyuck-Abel recommended designating a reliable off-island contact to help share updates with other friends and family members.
The template is available at www.bviddm.com/download/family-emergency-plan.
Royal Virgin Islands Police Force Sergeant Kishon Leslie, who also attended the expo, said it is particularly important to ensure that vulnerable citizens, including seniors, are supported in a disaster.
“We realised in the aftermath of Irma, some persons forgot their grandparents when they were running to shelters,” Mr. Leslie said. “We are stressing that persons don’t forget their elders.”
Members of the Road Protection Unit also offered tips like remembering to keep gas tanks at least half full in case of an emergency and carpooling when possible to help avoid congestion on key roadways.
Volunteers with Virgin Islands Search and Rescue reminded the public that out on the water, people can call 767 or 284-499-0911 for any emergency. They encouraged boaters to always be mindful of the weather and to avoid going out in bad conditions during hurricane season.
At another display at the expo, Green VI focused on sustainable preparedness solutions, offering demonstrations of how the glass they crush and recycle can be used in sandbags to reinforce doors.
They also showcased different solar-powered and rechargeable battery options to keep devices and emergency radios charged.
In the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes, mosquitoes thrived from the downpour of fresh water, and some of Green VI’s “bug out” programme leaders showed how to combat insects with long-lasting repellent devices.
Nearby, employees from CTL provided guidance on what to pack in an emergency kit. “It’s important to only pack the necessities,” said sales associate Ellie France. “It’s important to focus on what you need for an emergency that will last at least three days.”