By Davion Smith, BVI News Journalist
It is easy to forget what has been accomplished since the catastrophe of Hurricanes Irma and Maria over four months ago. But, the above-captioned photograph is a strong reminder.
Piles of debris had littered and stained the territory’s streets.
Unlike present day where more vehicles have begun to repopulate all corners of the British Virgin Islands, hardly any were mobile, days, even weeks, after the disasters.
In the aftermath of the category 5 storms, survivors were bombarded by the dispiriting spectacle of battered roofs, buildings, and vehicles. These hurricane-beaten properties sat against the backdrop of dull and razed hillsides.
But, after feverish cleanup efforts, there are now evident signs that the territory is returning to normalcy. This is also evidenced by the modicum of visitors who have also begun to return.
Lots of work still to be done
However, there is still a considerable amount of work needed to be done as the BVI moves into another phase of recovery.
Hundreds of homes are still damaged and a number of residents are yet to move out of shelters.
There is also continued infrastructural work to be done on the territory’s road, water, and electricity networks. Electricity has been restored to roughly 60 percent of the territory, so far.
A significant number of buildings and business places are also still in need of repair or reconstruction.
School structures are among the buildings that need to be restored as several students are currently being taught under tents.
And until more businesses are able to rise from the debris, unemployment is still a concern in the territory.
What government is doing
The BVI government led by Premier Dr D Orlando Smith has proposed a five-year recovery and development plan for the territory.
The plan, which is still in its preliminary stages will see an indicative figure of $721 million being used to finance the plan.
Government said it plans to generate the funds through a combination of loans, grants, insurance payouts, statutory borrowings, government spending, private sector partnerships, and support from non-government organizations.
There have been mixed reactions to the plan and most stakeholders across various local sectors have been lobbying to get larger shares of the funds.
Government is now hosting a series of community meetings so the public can weigh-in on the plan before it is finalised.
Since the hurricanes, the territory has also grappled with a number of social issues such as price-gouging and insurance-payout dilemmas in which insurers are being accused of shortchanging residents.
Some issues have been addressed while others are still affecting residents.
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