By Davion Smith
BVI News Journalist
Distribution of temporary shelter kits such as tarpaulins is continuing throughout the territory, however, residents are being told not to use them yet.
Director of the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), Sharleen DaBreo, said residents should wait until Hurricane Maria passes the territory before covering their roofless houses with tarpaulins.
Maria, which is now a Category 3 hurricane, is expected to pass close to the British Virgin Islands tomorrow through to Wednesday.
“One of the concerns we want to say to the public is putting tarps on with an approaching system, may not be a wise thing so you may want to look more at trying to secure whatever plywood you can, if you are going to do any physical work to the structures,” DaBreo said.
“We do not want tents outdoors with this approaching storm. We do not want people to have loose tarpaulin flying. It’s just not going to be productive for them,” added DaBreo, who said more than 1,640 tarpaulins have been distributed around the territory so far.
She noted that more temporary shelter kits will arrive in the BVI after Maria passes. “There are stocks of additional tents in Antigua that we are hoping to access. But everything is on hold now with this approaching storm and we are hoping that we can get whatever we can in the country now. We had eight containers coming last night. The effort today is to try to distribute all of that prior to Maria impacting us.”
Maria is wet and could strengthen
In the meantime, the DDM director said though Maria is a Category 3 hurricane, it still has time to strengthen before it hits us tomorrow. During the latest evaluation of the storm, forecasters clocked winds around 115 miles per hour.
“The centre of Maria is to pass just south of us – the closest point of approach will be about 65 miles away from us. The centre will pass around 5:30 am on Wednesday. What that means is from Tuesday afternoon we will start getting the tropical depression winds coming in like around 3 or 4 o’clock and that will continue to escalate until the eye passes,” DaBreo noted.
The DDM director further described Maria as a ‘wet system’ that puts the islands in danger of being flooded especially since Hurricane Irma razed most of the vegetation in the territory. Persons in flood-prone areas are being urged to relocate.
“The hurricane is going to be bringing with it high winds, heavy rains, and storm surges, so persons who are living in high elevations, low-lying areas, or those who are close to guts we are urging you to consider moving to an area that is much safer,” said DaBreo.
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