Double threat

Hurricane season, a first-time experience for one Beaconite, is just around the corner. She has received helpful tips from friends, including the importance of knowing evacuation routes and stocking up on two weeks’ worth of drinking water. The BVI Red Cross has a downloadable family emergency plan guide filled with useful tips, as does the Department of Disaster Management. The reporter also found it helpful to chat with her roommates about how prepping for the season will be affected by the pandemic. Considering that her roommates will be leaving for the summer, the Beaconite suggested they each assemble a box of items they wouldn’t want lost in a hurricane but can’t take with them. The reporter suggests that any households in similar situations do the same. Anyone experiencing housing issues because of the pandemic can also visit the newly created Facebook group BVI Rentals Summer 2020. Community members are welcome to post about available rooms or requests for roommates. The Beaconite hopes this space will also be a good resource for people to discuss issues related to housing, such as rental assistance programmes. If anyone has suggestions for how to make this group a more helpful resource for residents, please contact the group administrator.



Living history

A Beaconite was thrilled to see a “virtual exhibition” posted on Facebook by the Department of Culture. The first of a two-part video series titled “From Perreen Georges to Noel Lloyd: Heroes and Freedom Fighters” was released last Thursday. Accompanied by modern footage of historic sites, it begins with the story of Ms. Georges, who in 1811 gave testimony that led to the execution of sadistic plantation owner Arthur Hodge for murdering a slave named Prosper. Then the video goes on to recount the 1789 and 1819 rebellions of enslaved people on the Josiahs Bay plantation. Such history has gone largely untold in the territory for much too long, and the Beaconite applauds the department for producing a sharp video that will appeal to a contemporary audience. He hopes everyone will go to the department’s Facebook page and check it out. Personally, he can’t wait for part two.



Left out

On Tuesday, the Virgin Islands will reopen its borders to Virgin Islanders, belongers and permanent residents. Meanwhile, a debate rages about when to reopen to tourists. Government statements have indicated that it could be months before this step is taken. In all this, work-permit holders — many of whom are also stranded abroad and eager to get back — have been mostly left out of the discussion. They are waiting in limbo, and as a concerned resident recently pointed out to a Beaconite, “They have homes, families and lives here too.” Recently, government granted belongership to hundreds of people who had been waiting decades for it. In doing so, it recognised that foreigners do move to the VI on work permits, assimilate and stay for years, eventually considering it their home. Now, the Beaconite believes government needs to show that same consideration for work-permit holders abroad: If they can’t return just yet, they should at least be told when they will be welcomed back.



Saving coral

A new disease has arrived in the Virgin Islands that poses a threat to the territory’s coral reefs. Stony coral tissue loss disease, as the name implies, attacks the algae living inside coral and causes the tissue to fall off. Infected corals are marked by white lesions, a symptom of another disease also threatening VI corals. Though SCTLD is fast-moving, highly fatal, and so far incurable, it can be combated with a treatment that scientists gingerly apply, and with as many people as possible scanning coral for signs of infection. When coronavirus restrictions ease up and scuba diving is again allowed, the Beaconite encourages as many people as possible to train themselves to identify SCTLD, which helps scientists track the disease’s progress and contain it as much as possible. Those interested can ask dive shops to stock identification kits created by the Association of Reef Keepers, which uses all the revenue from the kits to purchase the treatment.