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‘Unprecedented Experience’ – 17 inches of rain

PREMIER SMITH: An initial assessment has shown significant damage to the road network on Tortola.

While announcing that multi-agency teams have been established to provide a full picture of the relief and restoration works needed, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said the territory on Monday faced an ‘unprecedented experience’ in having 17 inches of rainfall in less than 17 hours.

He added that, despite widespread damage, there was no need to reopen emergency shelters.

“We are now in the clean-up and recovery phase following the effects of the tropical wave that affected our territory on 7 August, 2017. As you are aware, as much as 17 inches of rain fell in less than 17 hours! This was truly an unprecedented experience for this territory.”

“We are all grateful to God that no lives were lost. As a resilient people, we have been working together non-stop to mitigate the effects of this storm,” Premier Smith said in a press statement.

He continued: “Multi-agency teams including representatives from the BVI Red Cross, Rotary, and other volunteer organisations have been established, and have started to assess the damage so we can have a full picture of the relief and restoration works that is needed. Additionally, work is being done on homes, critical infrastructure, and Government facilities.”

Premier Smith said the island of Tortola was hardest hit.

“Our assessments thus far indicate that, while the entire territory experienced heavy rains, most of the damage is concentrated on Tortola. An initial assessment has shown significant damage to the road network on Tortola, as well as interruption of the water distribution system. Schools throughout Tortola have also sustained damage.”

“Although several homes were flooded, there was no need for any of the emergency shelters to be activated; thanks to the community spirit of our people. I encourage more of our people to lend a helping hand to those who suffered loss – whether through buying groceries or helping those who lost much of their household goods to get replacements,” Premier Smith further said.

He added that ‘most businesses’ in the Road Town area suffered damage from water, mud slides and the like. “Immediately following the deluge, [they] set to work – drying out water, clearing the damage and restoring their operations. This is the true evidence of our resilience. I was really gratified to see this,” the premier noted.

According to him, the team at the Ministry of Communication and Works has been making a ‘concentrated effort’ to ensure that the territory gets back to a state of normality.

“Crews from the Public Works Department (PWD) continue to work to clear the debris from the roadways and ensure that these roads are safe for our people to traverse. The priority is to clear the main road arteries first, which would allow the PWD team to gain access to the feeder roads where persons may be trapped in their homes. The priority areas at this time are central Road Town, East End, and North Side.”

“We encourage you, as much as possible, to allow the teams from Public Works and BVI Electricity Corporation to undertake the necessary restorative work by limiting the amount of traffic that is traversing these priority areas. Unencumbered access work will allow the teams to complete the work in the shortest possible time,” Premier Smith said.

He added, “Reports from the BVI Tourist Board indicated that overall the industry escaped relatively unscathed. I am pleased to say that the tourism industry both land and sea remains operational. All the airports and seaports throughout the territory are currently opened and fully functional.”

Premier Smith also expressed gratitude to the persons involved in the recovery efforts, adding that residents should not take weather warnings lightly.

“At this time, I thank the residents and private sector for assisting in this recovery effort. I want to particularly acknowledge the hard and tireless work being done by Government department. Indeed, we have been working as a team to help with the clean-up and I applaud your collective efforts so far, and encourage you to continue to work together as we restore our islands.”

“Also, I wish to thank the Department of Disaster Management for their efforts. As we have seen last month and again on Monday, it does not take a named system to create havoc. I therefore encourage us not to take the weather warning lightly as the effects can be just as devastating, and have significant impact on our development. So let us continue to remain vigilant and work together,” added Premier Smith.

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