Providing an update on the territory’s readiness for the 2018 hurricane season, Governor Augustus Jaspert this week said there are currently 26 facilities that ‘can’ be used as emergency shelters in the event of a hurricane.
This update comes nearly three weeks after government released an interim list of land-based emergency shelters. That list comprises 19 named facilities.
During his readiness report this week, Governor Jaspert said, while 26 facilities can currently be used as shelters, an additional 14 “will soon commence repair works so that they too can be added to the list of available facilities and be ready for the peak of the season”.
He said these structures include mainly church halls and community centres.
Updating local laws for hurricane season
Besides getting emergency shelters ready, the governor said the Department of Disaster Management is also working on a number of projects to get the BVI ready for this hurricane season, which began 26 days ago.
“These include repairs to emergency shelters and identification of new facilities, restorations and strengthening of early warning and emergency communication systems, the clearing of marine shelters, the cleaning of ghuts and watersheds, improvements to the Disaster Management Act, the development of contingency stocks, the protection of critical records and critical emergency response assets, training for community groups and other persons and the launch of a campaign geared towards ensuring that residents are ready for what may come this hurricane season,” the governor said.
Below is the governor’s full list of updates since his first hurricane address for the season on June 1:
- There are currently twenty-six (26) buildings that can be used as emergency shelters across the Territory.
- An additional fourteen (14) which have been financed and will soon commence repair works so that they too can be added to the list of available facilities and be ready for the peak of the season. These structures include mainly Church Halls and Community Centers with owners repairing and providing these facilities for emergency sheltering I am very grateful for their support.
- A legal drafter (Ms Tira Greene of Anguilla) is reviewing the Disaster Management Act, to ensure that the lessons from 2017 can be incorporated into the existing Bill. Ms Greene is expected to present a Draft to Cabinet by early August.
- A security plan is also in place in the event of a disaster.
- While many agencies await insurance payouts, funding has been provided to initiate the immediate repairs that are needed to offer some level of protection to our critical emergency response, law enforcement, and border control agencies for the protection of employees and assets. Protection for the new stock of vehicles being acquired is also part of these discussions.
- As a result of the level of vulnerability posed to our Sister Islands, contingency stocks will be prepositioned on these islands to support immediate response.
- Extra communications equipment is being purchased by the Government and with further UK support.
- The UK is also advancing preparations ahead of the peak hurricane season to support the Overseas Territories and BVI if needed. This includes pre-deploying supplies in the region, having the military at a state of readiness to deploy and maintaining the relief ship RFA Mounts Bay in the region and discussions with international and regional partners to provide support to affected countries and Territories if needed.
“I am aware that the preparations have been difficult as a result of the extent of the impacts from the floods and devastating hurricanes but I urge the private sector to do what they can to ensure that they too can set clear priorities and work swiftly to achieve them, both in clearing up debris, prioritizing repairs and in ensuring strong business continuity plans are in place,” Governor Jaspert said.
He continued: “Finally, I want to urge community members to work closely with the local Non-Governmental Organisations and volunteers to ensure that we can deliver training programmes and awareness campaign to meet your specific needs. This week workshops commence aiming at training persons to support a national relief management programme. This workshop will be followed by training that will target some 40 teachers and administrators through a joint effort between the Adventist Development & Relief Agency, United Nations Children Fund, the Ministry of Education and the Department for Disaster Management. The month of July has been dedicated for community meetings and more training for community groups and volunteers and I will be joining some of these sessions on the Sister Islands.”
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