Good day one and all.
By now, you should be on high alert as we prepare for intense weather conditions expected from Hurricane Irma, which as of 11:00a.m was located near latitude 16.8 degrees North, longitude 53.3 degrees West.
Irma is currently a category 3 hurricane but will continue to strengthen. It is therefore a real threat to the Territory and based on the current forecast track, the eye of Irma is expected to pass approximately 35 miles north east of Road Town and will be closer to other islands across the Territory, in particular, the island of Anegada.
In light of the predictions on Hurricane Irma’s path, the meteorological authorities for the BVI, the Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Services, has issued a hurricane watch for the Territory. This means hurricane conditions are possible within the next 48 hours.
Considering Anegada’s topography and vulnerability to storm surge and the predicted wave heights, we are concerned about the impacts that this system may have on this island and we will initiate appropriate actions to support the residents. At this point we advise residents of Anegada to consider leaving the island and to find safe shelter with family and friends. We will be making provisions to support this move and further details will be issued.
Irma is expected to bring strong hurricane conditions to the Territory. However, I want to assure you that the authorities are undertaking all necessary precautions to safeguard the people of the Territory, analysing all the forecasts and are making decisions in your and the Territory’s best interest.
Jointly with the Premier, I held earlier today an emergency meeting of the National Disaster Management Council (NDMC) with key agencies, ministries and departments to review the forecasts and discuss our contingency and action plans.
The discussions surrounded the readiness of the emergency services, government and our key sector agencies. We have fully activated the disaster response mechanism; all key players are fully on board and all critical assets are being secured to ensure that we have the ability to initiate an immediate response following the impact.
Following this meeting, the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) was activated at 12 noon today, 4th September.
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.
After consultation with the Premier and the Deputy Governor, we have decided to close all Government Offices at 4:30 this afternoon (Monday, 4 September). This will allow public officers additional time to finalise their preparations. However, essential workers who would be needed will be contacted by their Heads of department to finalise Government’s preparations.
I understand this will be a period of uncertainty for those of us who will be experiencing a hurricane for the first time and even those who have experienced storms and hurricanes before.
The most important thing that you can do at this time is to be ready. Finalise your hurricane preparations, stay informed and follow the instructions from your local authorities.
Have your emergency supplies kit packed with supplies for at least three days, secure your homes, businesses and other personal property items such as cars and boats. Ensure that you have a battery operated radio to receive updates. Stay inside during the passage of the hurricane and follow all instructions which will be issued before, during and after the event.
Please monitor all media platforms - radio, television and the Department of Disaster Management’s Website (bviddm.com) and Facebook page BVI DDM for updates on the hurricane’s progress and for safety tips.
To all in the Virgin Islands, my message to you is to be ready and stay safe.
May God bless and protect the Territory.