Good day and God’s blessings to all the people of the Virgin Islands.
As you would have already heard from His Excellency the Acting Governor Mr. David Archer this morning, Government, through the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), is closely monitoring the progress of Hurricane Jerry.
Overnight, as was expected, that system strengthened and picked up some speed.
Although we have been blessed with a beautiful morning, as we patiently await the passage of Hurricane of Jerry, we must remain vigilant, but calm. We must not let our guard down!
Forecasters expect this system to pass to the north of our islands late today and into tomorrow, and we know that beyond Jerry, there is another activity in the Atlantic with the potential to impact the Territory.
Already, we have seen marine conditions change, with ground seas in some areas and a high surf advisory remaining in effect for the Territory.
We anticipate that the Territory may soon begin to see the effects of Jerry’s outer bands, such as moderate to heavy showers, particularly on the sister island of Anegada.
According to the latest forecast, when Hurricane Jerry passes north of us later today, it could bring heavy rains to the Virgin Islands.
Currently, the hurricane is located about 130 miles east-northeast of Barbuda and moving west-northwest at 17 miles per hour. Jerry’s maximum sustained winds are 85 miles per hour, and hurricane-force winds extend up to 15 miles from the centre.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend out up to 80 miles from the centre. Jerry is forecast to produce total rainfall accumulations of 1 to 2 inches with maximum amounts of 3 inches across the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, with isolated areas including Anegada forecast to get up to 6 inches of rain.
So, we must to continue to Be Ready like Noah, and do the work to build our ark so we can be ready for whatever storms might come our way. I strongly encourage all of us to in the Territory to reflect on what last-minute supplies we may need to purchase or repairs we need to complete before we begin to experience any effects from the storm later today.
As a Government, our ongoing preparations have included securing government assets and property; identifying some priority shelters in case our people need to seek refuge; and making sure that our essential workers and critical service providers are on duty and ready to react to any changes in conditions.
For residents and visitors who are not part of these essential and critical services, I trust that you would utilise today to review your family or business emergency plans and conduct any final preparations that might be required.
Of course, Government is concerned about more than just weather conditions and physical preparations.
We are also concerned about the spirit of our people, many of whom may still be healing from the hurts inflicted upon all of us by the 2017 hurricane season. I know that Dorian’s impact on our brothers and sisters in Abaco and Grand Bahama would have reopened some of those old wounds.
As you physically prepare, I urge you to tend to your emotional and spiritual needs today as well. Don’t let your anxiety take control of you. Please take a quiet moment and a period of reflection. Find your comfort in our Heavenly Father who said in His word:
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Remember it is important to keep a calm head so that you can make good decisions and so that you will be able to assist those who may be relying on you.
Our people are BVI strong and we have faced challenges before. That is why I am confident in our ability to overcome whatever Hurricane Jerry may bring.
Let us all keep safe and continue praying that the remainder of this very busy Atlantic Hurricane Season that God will be merciful on us and our brothers and sisters throughout the region.
May God continue to bless and protect the people of the Virgin Islands.