BVI News

Ground floor evacuated at Labour, Immigration

The ground floor at the Immigration Department

The ground floor of both the Labour and Immigration Departments are still evacuated after being extensively flooded almost 10 days ago during a tropical wave that drenched sections of the territory.

However, both departments, which are located in the same Road Town complex, are carrying out limited services at their respective second floors.

Acting Chief Immigration Officer Geraldine Ritter-Freeman said the flood waters damaged various items including equipment and furniture.

“We had 100 percent coverage of water on the first floor, which means everything that was in the water’s path – CPUs, files, doors, furniture – everything [was affected]. The complete carpet had to be removed and so forth,” she told BVI News Online this afternoon.

“The department was affected greatly by the floods, taking us offline on Thursday and Friday following the holiday break. We tried to do as much as we could in order to resume operations, but we are still not 100 percent fully functional.”

Geraldine Ritter-Freeman. File photo

The Immigration Department has been addressing mainly urgent cases.

“We recognized that we have persons who have urgent needs to travel, etcetera. Some of the processes have been moved to the second floor so that we can process especially our visitors who will possibly be looking for extensions or for just clarification of their stay here in the Virgin Islands. We are also keen on addressing students who are trying to get into HLSCC and so forth,” added Ritter-Freeman.

“For all the other persons, we are monitoring the situation accordingly and trying to assist. We defer people as we see the need to defer them… For the most part, we’ve had an emergency situation and so we will use our discretion in those cases.”

Ritter-Freeman said the Immigration Department will close early to the public starting tomorrow, August 17.

“As of tomorrow, we are going to be open at 8:30 and close our operation at 2 o’ clock [in the afternoon] for the purpose of trying to recover from the recent event.”

“We still have a lot of work to do internally, and we need to be able to regroup as a team to be able to bring the department fully back online so that we can provide professional services to the public… I think we are doing a fairly good job so far in trying to facilitate persons given that the office was closed for festival and then closed subsequently due to the floods,” Ritter-Freeman further said.

A notice at the ground floor of the Labour Department

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