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Satellite warehouses are being established in key locations throughout the Territory as the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) continues to enhance community resilience.
The DDM will be using containers to store emergency relief contingency stocks that will be used for immediate response operations as a first step. The engineering of the satellite warehouses will be done to ensure the containers are mounted on concrete platforms and secured to withstand high winds. These warehouses will also be properly vented and outfitted to store supplies safely.
The containers will be placed on Anegada, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dkye, Sea Cow’s Bay, the western and eastern ends of Tortola and will complement the stores currently held at the national warehouse in Fish Bay.
Community Relations Officer, Cecil “Alex” Jeffrey explained the purpose of the containers.
He said, “One of the biggest challenges we had immediately following the impact from the 2017 disaster events was the inability to provide resources and basic relief to individuals, communities, Sister Islands and key agencies in an efficient and timely manner. The establishment of these temporary structures is a first step in addressing this issue and will provide immediate access to critical resources for affected communities within 24 to 36 hours after impact.”
The warehouses will be managed and maintained by the Department of Disaster Management in conjunction with District Officers and non-governmental organisations using the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Logistics Support System (LSS).
Mr. Jeffrey expressed appreciation for the tremendous support received from the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Officer through the Governor’s Office, BVI Red Cross as well as an allocation of funds approved by Cabinet to secure the containers and supplies. A total of eight containers have been procured with emergency stocks along with emergency communications, essential supplies for critical response agencies and generators for emergency shelters.
Mr. Jeffrey further noted that several other initiatives are taking place that complement this work.
He explained, “Generators have been provided by the UK FCO and will soon be installed at various emergency shelters and critical locations. New signage is also being installed at emergency shelters and for evacuation routes at strategic locations throughout the Territory. We are in discussions with the European Union, through the Premier’s Office, to provide further financing to support the upgrade of emergency shelters and train shelter managers.”
Meanwhile, Director with the BVI Red Cross, Ms. Helen Frett indicated that some of the organisation’s stocks will be stored in the containers for use by their volunteers and community members.
Mrs. Frett said, “The BVI Red Cross is pleased to have partnered with the Department of Disaster Management in the establishment of satellite warehouses on the Sister Islands of Anegada, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda. This will build great resilience at the community level and will ensure that following a disaster, contingency stocks are readily accessible to the affected populations.”
Cabinet approved the sum of $1.17 million in July 2018 to restore emergency shelters on land and within mangrove protected areas as part of a Readiness Plan. Repairs have since been completed on a number of these structures by the Ministry of Health and Social Development and works are ongoing at the marine shelters in Paraquita Bay and Sea Cow’s Bay through a project by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour.
In addition to these funds, donations were made by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to support the repairs to the Long Trench Community Centre which is still accommodating 12 persons until long term housing arrangements can be finalised.
The DDM continues to work assiduously to ensure the national emergency response systems are fully restored to respond to hazards that can affect the Territory at any time. In addition to working on the physical aspects of the disaster management programme, the department with the support of several non-governmental organisations has trained over 200 persons at the community level so far this year.