The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is assessing the readiness of the British Virgin Islands ahead of the 2018 hurricane season and will produce a Readiness Report before the end of the month.
The DDM is drafting the report based on orders from the Cabinet, which is the executive branch of local government.
A media release from the DDM today said government has initiated a plan to get the territory ready for the upcoming hurricane season, which officially starts on June 1.
“Cabinet is desirous of ensuring that we make preparations to initiate an effective response, should we be impacted again this year. The Readiness Report is expected to be laid before Cabinet on February 21, 2018,” said DDM Director, Sharleen DaBreo.
As for the progress of hurricane preparation so far, DaBreo said repairs have started on ‘critical facilities’ such as homes for the elderly and clinics on the islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda. She said repairs will continue on other islands ‘shortly’.
DaBreo said the DDM has also commenced ‘detailed inspections’ on emergency shelters that were designated last year.
“We are also looking at other facilities that were used during the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Public Works Department and the Environmental Health Unit are fully engaged in this process. We are aiming to have a new list of emergency shelters available for release prior to the first of June 2018.”
Early preparedness campaign
Coupled with those initiatives, the DDM has launched an early preparedness campaign under the theme ‘Get Ready, Stay Ready’.
The campaign provides readiness tips on local radio and online.
Residents are being told to use the off-season to get their homes and businesses repaired.
Meanwhile, Chief Planner Greg Adams is urging residents to use advice from the Town and Country Planning Department and the Building Authority when repairing homes.
Examine and reinforce
He also encouraged residents to thoroughly inspect roofs that remained intact after last year’s hurricanes.
“The intensity of the winds was well beyond what many structures are designed to withstand and so those buildings that remained in place should be closely examined and reinforced. Those being repaired should ensure that proper methods are used for connecting the various building components.”
Adams also encouraged persons to secure windows with hurricane shutters.
“It is important when purchasing hurricane shutters that you examine the pros and cons of each and ensure that they are suitable for the window size and the location of your structures. Remember, now is the time to begin clearing around your property,” he said.
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