BVI News

BVI disaster-prone so follow building code and insure properties

“I know that some of you may be concerned that with all this seismic activity, we as a territory should be thinking about the potential for a tsunami.” — Premier Fahie

Following the recent series of earthquakes that have caused death, injury and major property damage in the neighbouring Puerto Rico, Premier Andrew is encouraging local developers to employ responsible building practices.

In a public address late Tuesday afternoon, Premier Fahie said: “As you carry out your private development, I would encourage you to listen to and follow the advice of Town & Country Planning, and to reach out to the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) for information about hazard risk on your property.”

The Premier also advised residents to insure their respective properties.

Tsunamis also a concern

He said it was important for property owners to do so because the territory is not only susceptible to hurricanes and earthquakes.

“I know that some of you may be concerned that with all this seismic activity, we as a territory should be thinking about the potential for a tsunami. Despite the frequency and strength of this series of events, thankfully DDM has advised that there have been no tsunami watches or warnings issued. But, rest assured, we are on high alert,” Fahie aid.

“Still, I reassure you that your government takes disaster preparedness and management very seriously. We understand the need for a concerted effort to integrate disaster management principles in our future development plans and to do whatever is necessary now to ensure that our residents and visitors are prepared, ready and safe,” Fahie added.

Here is Premier Fahie’s full statement.

Review disaster plans now!

Following the aforesaid Puerto Rico earthquakes, Deputy Governor David Archer, Jr also has made what he described as an “urgent appeal” to government department and agency heads to review their disaster management plans immediately.

“Begin testing your earthquake procedures with your staff using the drop, cover and hold on technique,” Archer said. “I know that with practice, any nervousness or fear that our public officers may feel at the thought of a seismic event can be replaced with calm and confidence.”

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16 Comments

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  1. Good luck says:

    The vast majority of buildings in the BVI are not constructed to withstand a significant earthquake. And the recent tremor off Puerto Rico should be a wake up call to all stakeholders, particularly the government. The BVI last experienced a major earthquake over 150 years ago so it is only a matter of time when the next one will strike. It’s not IF but WHEN. Unfortunately the nature of current construction practice employed in the territory (multi-story reinforced concrete frames and masonry) will prove a sever risk to life as the vast majority of these are not designed or constructed to withstand even a moderate seismic event let alone a major earthquake! Please take this seriously

    Like 13
    Dislike 1
    • Ok?? says:

      So how should they be built if not with reinforced concrete, with rebar inside?

      • Good luck says:

        @ok??
        I’m not saying you shouldn’t build with reinforced concrete but that the reinforced concrete should be designed and constructed to comply with seismic building codes. Currently the vast majority of reinforced concrete buildings in the BVI do not meet these standards.
        In addition all concrete block masonry should also be reinforced… this is not standard practice in the BVI construction industry.
        And unfortunately the great weight of concrete and masonry is the killer when it collapses due to seismic loading.

  2. BuzzBvi says:

    Does this mean the Government is going to properly insure it’s own buildings now? It would be wise to follow it’s own advice. May also be a good idea to check insurance on the buildings that they lease.

    • Insurance says:

      Insure the buildings? With whom? The insurance companies don’t pay and when they do they pay 20 cents on the dollar. How about some consumer protection laws from the islands crooked insurance companies so when disaster strikes the people are compensated fairly and have recourse against the insurance company. Try thinking like a first world country for once.

      Like 5
      Dislike 2
  3. free advice says:

    Only wooden buildings could withstand earthquakes but problematic with hurricanes and fire….Difficult to get them insured

  4. Interesting says:

    How does one build to withstand an earthquake when the earth can open up?

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  5. Home owner 123 says:

    The government does not really care at all about quality construction. I got a building permit to build my house and after I got the permit I never saw a government official again and have been living in my house for more than 2 years. all they want is your money.

    • MP says:

      Aren’t you lucky! When I was building, government officals came they wanted to see plans, check the steel works, etc before casting…..

  6. E. Leonard says:

    Due to the VI’s geographic location it is disaster-prone and highly vulnerable to a number of hydrometeorological (hurricanes, floods, storm surges, rain)and geological (earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes) disasters that are exacerbated by climate change/global warming, ie, increase in the frequency and severity of storms, heavy rainfall, rising sea levels, coastal erosion…..etc.

    Consequently, to prevent, limit……etc damages, it(VI) must take actions to protect people, property, environment, infrastructure and economy. It must take action to mitigate damages, ie, engineering ( enhancing building codes and construction……etc)and administrative actions (protecting mangroves, wetlands, ponds….etc). The actions must include disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures, pre-disaster mitigation (PDM), sound, timely and urgent preparation and readiness, and quick response and recovery. Tourism is 1/2 of the economic twin pillars and to protect the industry and brand there must be quick response and recovery. Little Dix Bay(Rosewood) just reopened after a 4-year hiatus, though storm damages were not the total cause for the extended closure.

    Moreover, it wise for one to protect one’s property, ie, with insurance but the reality is that many property owners may not be in the financial position to afford insurance. However, it is in the national interest to protect life and prevent/minimize property damages, along with providing a quick response to and recovery from damages. Government may need to help property owners that cannot afford insurance, ie, with low interest or no interest loans; these loans can be paid back over a 12 month or greater time.

    Government can award the loans directly or it can guarantee the loans with private sector financial institutions. Qualifications for such loans should be means tested. Further, a public education and outreach programme on property insurance full replacement cost and the risks with being under insured, though the premiums may be lower, should be rolled out. HLSCC can be tasked with managing the programme.

    Like 12
    Dislike 2
    • Socialism says:

      “Government may need to help property owners that cannot afford insurance, ie, with low interest or no interest loans; these loans can be paid back over a 12 month or greater time.

      Government can award the loans directly or it can guarantee the loans with private sector financial institutions. Qualifications for such loans should be means tested. Further, a public education and outreach programme on property insurance full replacement cost and the risks with being under insured, though the premiums may be lower, should be rolled out. HLSCC can be tasked with managing the programme.” Is this socialism?

      • Capitalism and Socialism says:

        There are no pure capitalistic of socialistic economIes. Economies are a hybrid. A lot of action taken by democratic governments that embraces capitalism can be viewed as socialism. Government helping the needy acquire property insurance through loans served a public good.

    • Diaspora says:

      Complacency was a factor why many property owners who could afford insurance didn’t buy insurance. Decades of the VI not being directly hit by a major hurricane ( cat 3 and above) lulled many property owners into this costly complacency. The complacency may have also caused many property owners to go for the lower premiums associated with under insurance than with full replacement cost.

      A painful lesson that many can and should have learnt from. If you can afford insurance, especially complete replacement cost, buy it; it is not if but when another major hurricane will hit. That said, there are two other insurance related issues that needs touching: 1. As noted by E. Leonard, insurance affordability for property owners at the lower rungs of the economy ladder, and 2. Insurers.
      .
      In regards to property owners at lower rungs of the economic ladder, the proposal for government to provide low interest or no interest loans is a good starting point and should be explore. Some may argue that government should not be competing with the private sector; well, this about delivering affordable service to a needy section of the community.

      Further, government should carefully evaluate insurers wanting to do business in the territory before they are given the license, the green light, to operate. The regulator must be vigilant and provide strong oversight. True, a major disaster can pose challenges to the solvency of insurers, especially those operating in small locales. Nonetheless, purchasing an insurance policy is a binding contract between the insurer and the insured. If the insured is living up to the terms and conditions of the contract, the insurer must do likewise, ie., if the insured has a credible and legit claim, the insurer must pay up.

  7. Not me says:

    I won’t be parking my ride in [hotel] garage anytime soon. That no place to be when the shakin get on

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