Territorial At-Large Representative, Neville Smith has said he believes a national disaster plan easily accessible to the general public is needed in the British Virgin Islands.
Smith made the comments during a recent session in the House of Assembly while debating in favour of the Disaster Management Act 2019, which transfers the management of disasters affecting the territory from the Office of the Governor to local government.
He said the plan’s blueprint will assist residents and businesses in effectively preparing ahead of most natural disasters that impact the BVI.
“We have to start planning … We cannot just say we will do things and then we not. We have to plan. We have to make a national plan for disaster and that national plan should be public. People should know every single thing in that national plan in terms of surviving,” Smith stated.
He added: “Generator should be in every single building that’s supposed to be a shelter. [Furthermore], that shelter should be built in a way that it could be used for different things, so when hurricane season strikes you, know that’s a shelter with partitions where you could keep females on one side, males on another side.”
Smith further said it will take for the various stakeholders to assess all that needs to be done across the territory to compile a comprehensive plan that is effective.
“I really think that we need to sit down and look at stuff like that because we have a lot of shelters that I would say that are on flood zones, it has certain disasters that we could prepare for and certain ones we cannot. But the ones that we could prepare for, let us prepare them.”
Smith added that the time to start planning is now. He warned the listening audience not to wait until the new hurricane season commences to then begin preparing for a disaster.
The territory has a relatively dated disaster management plan that was last placed under review around the year 2018 following the impact of the September 2017 hurricanes. It is not known what came of that review.
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