BVI News


‘Where do I start?’ – Walwyn laments destruction of ESHS

One of the new sixth-form building on the school compound is pictured here in ruins.

Education Minister Myron Walwyn was on the brink of delivering on a promise he made to complete 32 new classrooms at the Elmore Stoutt High School in time for the new school year.

But now he has been stopped in his tracks by a category-5 hurricane which landed in the territory last week and virtually destroyed every building on the public school property on Tortola.

“Elmore Stoutt High School has been damaged. I took a look at it and, to be quite honest with you, I said to myself ‘where do I start?’,” Walwyn told BVI News Online.

The damage is evident as soon as you enter the school compound, as the metal gate which once separated the students from persons on the outside is now gone. Several of the buildings that were being constructed to accommodate sixth-form students have either been flattened or had their roofs blown away by Hurricane Irma.

So, too, has been the fate of the auditorium area and several other classrooms.

“Yes, it [the school year] will be further delayed. I have to meet with my permanent secretary, of course, and other members of government to discuss how we [are] going to go about handling school. But we should get it sorted out pretty soon,” Walwyn admitted after assessing the damage.

But, despite the destruction, the education minister said there are some positives; noting that he now has a new slate on which to rebuild.

“I have thought about it and there are some opportunities. In anything that you have that’s negative – in any devastation – there are positives and you have to just look for them and find those things and correct them.”

“There might have been certain decisions that you might have needed to make but… you couldn’t make them. Now it’s an opportunity to take it. We pretty much now have a clean slate to rebuild the country in the way that we want it to be rebuilt including the school,” said Walwyn.


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  1. Big Phil says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 4

    Where do you start, Minister Walwyn? Constructing new buildings that are hurricane proof. It is a shame that brand new school buildings were not built that way.

    • over there says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      It isn’t a shame that new structures were not built to withstand hurricanes: it’s a crime. And those who permitted such heinous cost and quality-cutting should be held to account.

      But this is the BVI, so they won’t be.

      • Hurricane???? says:

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

        You guys should just come together and help restore the country instead of just throwing blame. What the Virgin Islands experienced was not just a hurricane, but possible tornado activities. Regardless of how well the buildings where constructed, a Tornado will take them down. Don’t under estimate the power of God.

        • Nizam says:

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

          Why are so many so quick to blame the God of grace and love? Maybe the god of some is malevolent.

        • Lol says:

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

          A cat 5 hurricane with gusts of 230mph and more? What do you want them to build? Cisterns above ground? Stop being stupid and thank god for life. The island wide devastation is testament to the fact that no matter what man build or how smart man think they are, mother nature will show them who is boss real quick. Build all you want but tornados in excess of 200mph will destroy anything in its path. Be thankful more lives werent lost and that our hospital and other vital buildings withstood the fury.

        • Janice says:

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          Thank you

  2. Together As One says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

    MVW start by hiring serious engineers not architect and project managers…

  3. Closet says:

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 9

    Please not NDP to rebuild, learn from the past and what were happening before Hurricane Irma…
    Yes rebuild but not with this government… People
    yes a terrible disaster happened,… start fresh… remember how this government quandered finances.. no accountability, with them in charge,… everything they build will continiue to be wiped out…..

    • Smh says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

      You need to go pray.

    • Ken Dreger says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

      Yes, a OVERSIGHT Group is needed to monitor every $$ spent and where it goes! Make all records available to the public and post all expenses online every week. You can get the kids to do that for free! It is a learning experience for them.

  4. hmmmm... says:

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

    clear the land and build a real school.this is your time to shine in history walwyn. build a proper school well designed new era.. we already waste money on cheap s%$t… might as well we waste it on proper building concrete full concrete where necessary.

  5. No name says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    a million dollars goes a long way!!

  6. RASPECK says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    Hey at least the wall survived

  7. Dont Mind Me says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    I’m curious on if the ‘million dollar walls” stayed up during this hurricane. The same money used on building the walls could’ve been put to actual use here. Spend money wisely!
    HowBoutDat ?

  8. Ken Dreger says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

    Here is an idea, since the kids can no longer attend regular classes, get them all togather and tell them that from this day forward they will be earning credits toward graduation in a new class called “Re-construction” ! Have the kids organize teams to help clean up the areas, have them help clear out areas where new buildings may go, have them be part of the re-build project with thier input on what they would like to see. And make these new buildings out of Concrete 10″ Thick and make a storm shelter for the school. Make the walls lean In at an angle and burry the walls 3′ into the ground with 1/2″ Rebar. Windows only at the tops of a few walls and no larger than 24″ tall and 24″ wide, use skylight tubes to light the buildings, make a place for a large generator to be housed, install a water collection system that catches all the rain from the roof. Have an engr. design a roof system that can withstand a 200MPH wind and NOT be blown off.

    • Friend of BVI form California says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

      This is the mindset that is needed to make a strong feature for these youngsters that need a tangible success after this tragedy.

      The skills learned in this process would be transformational and useful.

      All of us that love the BVI people will be back soon. See you soon.

    • Really says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      It seems to be like your suggestion of a roof would be blown off too. Check the news to see how much wind that cat 5 hurricane had

  9. oh yeah says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

    One way to start is by graduating the children that were successful ans met the requirements for graduation. There is no need to keep them back with the additional school year. If they have all the necessary credits let them go so those who want to attend colleges and universities can get in for the next semester. Don’t hold back the children they have suffer enough.

  10. E. Leonard says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    Education and training is vital to the growth, development and sustainability of the territory; it is critical to independence??? Hurricane Irma, a Cat 5+ storm for the ages and annals of history, may have damaged the educational institutions and facilities yet the territory has to forge ahead educating its students. Virgin Islanders are a resilient people.

    Left to fend for themselves, they have made great strides, Irma not withstanding. Now, inspite of Irma, they must unite and resolve to move forward head on. Moving forward full speed ahead, rebuilding the education system(s) should occur in two phases-temporary and permanent.

    Though Hurricane Irma may have devasted the territory, it should not dampen the spirit nor the resolve of the territory.The territory has to rebound quickly, the education process must forge ahead. Temporary facilities, i.e., trailers……..etc must be constructed/put in place quickly to continue the education process. The VI must resolve to becoming a learning nation and there should/cannot be any lengthy gaps in the learning process.

    This is a rebirth opportunity for the nation; it is a renaissance of sorts. Thus, on the permanent side of the equation, the territory needs to take pause and get the rebirth right. With limited acreage, every effort must be employed to maximize the use of limited land.

    Suggestions: benchmark other best in class locales, construct new facilities with dual purpose ( normal:education, emergency: rideout shelters), construct facilities to withstand at least Cat 4 hurricanes(will be more expensive but great investment of scarce resources), establish an ad hoc committee of a cross section of community to evaluate and make recommendations on new education campuses, establish a school board, ensure facilities are constructed as designed ………….etc.

  11. OneBVI says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    this is the right sentiment but we do need proper outside expertise to build infrasturcture that will be far more resilient.

    We can start by asking whether the schools are eve n in the best locations for traffic etc or whether there is another, better way.

  12. Oops says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Are there “hurricane proof” buildings.

    • E. Leonard says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      There are no hurricane proof buildings; however, buildings can be designed and constructed to resist hurricanes, reducing damages. The cost to construct buildings to resist higher category hurricanes, i.e., Cat 3, 4, and 5 may be cost prohibitive. Consequently, typically, property owners construct to withstand a lower Cat, i.e., 1,or 2 and assume the risk of the damages resulting from the higher categories.

      From afar, the whole building code may need to be reviewed for needed changes. The roofing system is critical to minimizing damages from hurricanes. Once the roof goes, the building is more vulnerable to more damages. May need to review and change drastically how rafters, trusses……etc are attached to walls. The roofing system is complicated. Wind flowing over roof surfaces creates negative pressure, causing an uplifting force on roof and if the resisting force is not strong enough the roof is lift off.

      Another cause of concern is windows and doors. Windows and doors must be strong enough to resist wind force and damages from flying debris. They need protective covering, i.e., shutters. Once wind gets inside, the pressure increases and an uplifting force is created that may result in the roof lifting off. Again, once the roof goes, the rest of the building is more vulnerable to damages.

      • An example says:

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

        The building that houses National Bank and its engineers and construction company will be a great starting point.

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