The leadership of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is this afternoon appealing for residents to remain calm amid what it said is potentially the strongest hurricane to hit the territory in recent memory.
“We are extremely concerned about the hurricane’s projected path, strength, and level of impact. Nonetheless, it is important that we all remain calm so that we make the best decisions for ourselves and families,” said Governor Augustus Jaspert and Premier Dr D Orlando Smith in a joint statement received late this morning, September 5.
The duo noted that the BVI is among countries expected to be affected by the hurricane, which continues to strengthen as it approaches the territory. The BVI has been under hurricane warning since last night.
“The premier and I remain in consultation on the progress of Hurricane Irma, which is nearing the Leewards and Virgin Islands,” the governor said.
“Irma is now a very dangerous category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds of near 175 miles per hour, and continues to strengthen as it approaches the territory.”
“This could be the strongest hurricane to hit the BVI in recent memory. There should be no complacency,” Governor Jaspert further said in the joint statement.
“Irma is a dangerous major hurricane with potential to cause catastrophic damage. Forecasters tell us that we can expect life-threatening winds, storm surge with waves as high as 40 feet, and rainfall impacts of between 8 and 14 inches. Therefore, we must complete all your preparations now!”
Meanwhile, Governor Jaspert yesterday held an emergency meeting of the National Disaster Management Council with key agencies, ministries, and departments to review forecasts and discuss plans surrounding the readiness of emergency services, Government, and key sector agencies.
Following that meeting, the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) was activated.
“The NEOC will provide a central point for the coordination of response actions. Please rest assured that the members of the NEOC will make appropriate decisions taking into consideration information from forecasters, historical and geographical knowledge of the BVI, and past experiences. Decisions made and instructions from the NEOC must be followed as we work to protect lives and minimise loss,” the governor said.
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