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State of emergency before hurricane pointless – Premier

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith at today’s sitting of the House of Assemble.

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said there was ‘no point’ in implementing a state of emergency before Hurricane Irma smashed into the British Virgin Islands.

A state of emergency is usually implemented when a country is faced with national danger. The state of emergency effectively suspends regular constitutional procedures in any country so its government can maintain or regain control.

Premier Smith said in the House of Assembly today that calling for a state of emergency ahead of the strongest hurricane in the region would have been of no use to the now battered and looted BVI.

“There was no benefit to declaring a state of emergency before the hurricane because in and of itself, it does nothing,” the Premier reasoned.

He made the statement while answering questions from representative of the Third Electoral District, Julian Fraser, who disagreed.

Fraser used the neighbouring United States Virgin Islands (USVI), which was placed under a state of emergency prior to the said hurricane, to drive home his point.

“It served a purpose to be in place before. Looters were siting right after the hurricane ready and prepared to loot people’s property but the police could not send them home because there was no state of emergency or any curfew in place,” the Third District Representative said.

However, Dr Smith was not convinced. He argued that unlike the BVI, the USVI could afford to implement a state of emergency before the disaster because they qualified for aid from disaster response agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Premier said: “The United States is a territory [which receive] massive input of assistance in terms of aid, FEMA and all that it brings. We don’t get any such assistance when there is a state of emergency so there is no point in doing that (implement state of emergency) [for the BVI].”

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22 Comments

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  1. Bz says:

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 14

    Doc is right! Declaring a state of emergency does nothing different. Now if Fraser means that the Military should have been here before hand for security purposes then I would agree.

  2. Mkay says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 7

    Well.. it is kind of true that the BVI Government could not do things much differently if a state of emergency was declared before the hurricane. However I have a feeling that Dr. Orlando Smith simply doesn’t want to admit that he was wrong and didn’t make the right call. This is because if there was a state of emergency declared, even though the BVI has limited enforcement, people and looters would be much more careful and scared of consequences of their actions. That would serve as a warning and since people would know that the Government has much more power and normal constitution procedures would be suspended, they would quite simply feel more afraid to commit crime after the hurricane. Even though the BVI would not have enough man power to enforce it as the US Virgin Islands would be able to, there would have been way more less crime after the hurricane if the BVI people would just have received a warning from the Government about the State of Emergency. The same with a dog – if you make him feel scared, he will obey even if technically he would be able to rip you apart, because he doesn’t know what he’s able of and he’s just afraid. Dr. Orlando knows this but he will probably never admit that he made a mistake.

  3. Concerned Native says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 6

    Is this guy serious… smh, he needs to go that’s even more obvious now.

  4. Smith says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 3

    stupidness … hurricane approaching directly to the BVI., and you not a state of emergency to call. Premier something have to happen before you all take action. And when it happened you still can’t deal with, just running over country like fools trying to find solutions to fixed it when you could avoid it before it happens… that’s what goes on

  5. Government says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

    Well that’s what the government need to do and debate in the house. These are things should already have been in place known we’re in the hurricane and earthquake zone. Stopped waiting for things to happen and then act, when you could avoid something before it happens. And I’m not taking about state of emergency alone. I’m speaking in general. It’s nothing about USVI and US.
    What do we have UK for… it’s just like how you now beginning for helping. This were UK play role.

  6. Billy says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    Declaring any change in political status or legal powers are more sensible before an event as it’s already informing residents who may not have the benefit of communication platforms after the event.

    Governments on many jurisdictions have seen the benefit as they are often in no position to declare the emergency, nor is the population able to hear.

  7. Taxpayer says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

    I can’t believe what I’m reading. Premier, say it isn’t so. My heart felt so heavy reading. I’m so done.

  8. Reply says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

    Sorry, in my opinion the Premier is trying to defend the indefensible. I don’t understand how he can make such an argument unless he is trying to save face.

    In my view, he screwed up by not declaring a state of emergency prior to the arrival of that massive storm. To argue he did not see the need for a state of emergency given all that he has witnessed and seen after the storm is to repeat the same systemic failures the next time around and show him to be in denial.

    I understood that he may not want the other side to gain political points on this issue, but imo, there is nothing wrong in saying that in retrospect a declaration of a state of emergency would have been beneficial. But no…he stubbornly sticks to his script despite the realities on the ground.

    Not good form Mr. Premier.

  9. Blah says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

    A state of the emergency cry immediately puts the BVI under the Governor’s control! Main reason why it was not called. Simple. But they can’t say that. Calling a SOE truly does nothing to help BVI before a disaster. Police would still have been sent home as they have their own families to look age. That’s what happened at the Prison. Can’t expect the guards to stay up there when they have families and their own self to protect. The Darned police were looting too! So arguing about when the SOE was called is really immaterial. And according to the AG chambers, our laws don’t allow for an SOE to be called until an actual disaster has occurred not before.

  10. I give up says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

    What can we do but read and listen in disbelieve to the nonsense our Premier is saying. I give up!! Seriously.

  11. BVI to the bone says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    I watch and I listen to the comments of those who wanted their voices to be heard. Yes I agree that a state of energy should have been called but does it make a difference at this point and time? What we as a people should be focusing on now is putting our hands to the plow and assisting each other to clean up the BVI. In the meantime the elected officials should focus on putting measures in place to ensure a more effective response to this and other similar disasters should they occur in the future. Lastly, we should continue to pray as a territory that we are spared from ever having to experience another Cat. 5 hurricane or any other type of disaster whether natural or man made. It’s useless to throw mud, bricks or stone at each other at this point and time. Forward ever, backwards never.

  12. Wow says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

    Wow he can’t be Serious! First the government should had put a state of emergency from the time he hear the hunicane was coming our way . If it had hit without damage them he takes it off and if had hit with damage we would had police in place so people wouldn’t be able to go out until after the curfew. So my point in all this Blame the government, for their slow movement and they had no plan in place.

  13. Huh says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    Premier??? Please!

  14. Dave Foote says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

    Time to go

  15. TurtleDove says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    I don’t think it would have changed anything. The issue is the national disaster plan was flawed because looting was not taken into account.

    Lesson learned. Doc stop the mess; FEMA have nothing to do with this! Lets learn from our mistakes and fix them. Has a state of emergency ever been called in advance of a storm before? This storm humbled everyone should be a good template for disaster plan in the future.

  16. Curious says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    Iya stop this man from speaking because this is turning into a serious joke now

  17. The Sherrif says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    Let’s stop arguing and focus on rebuilding. Has anyone seen a plan put forward yet?

  18. Moomoo says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    Is there such a place called moomooville? Wow, state of emergency means funds from FEMA? What the heck??? The government needed to call state of emergency, if not for the people then for their own darn self to be prepared. State of emergency would tell businesses to get ready to implement their business continuity plans. It would mean curfew in place with immediate effect, evacuation measures in place with immediate effect, emergency services providers on standby with immediate effect, shelters open with immediate effect, people to stock up on food, gas, water etc immediately and at least to last for a certain period of time, people to properly secure their personal and business premises immediately. People needed time to prepare! This thing needed to be taken seriously. Even when I read that the forecasters were concerned that the hurricanes may take routes that it usually does not take (which to me meant directly for the BVI), the Premier probably was of the opinion that the BVI would again be spared! He thought this thing would change course, this thing would die down, just another beautiful day in Paradise. THAT is why the state of emergency was NOT called. Better to say you made a mistake and will not make the same mistake in the future than to defend yourself! IM SO SICK OF THIS! SO IF THERE WERE FUNDS TO BE RECEIVED FROM CALLING STATE OF EMERGENCY, THEN WHAT, YOU WOULD BE CALLING ONE EVERYDAY?? RESIGN!!!

  19. Judgement says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    No man can control gods work …

  20. hmm says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Frazier is right about the looters. They were observed sweeping into Nanny Cay when the storm got low, and were well organized. They knew exactly where they wanted to go, and had look-outs. I don’t think a state of emergency would have helped in the situation, though.

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