Be SMART – Preparedness leads to resiliency is the theme of this year’s hurricane season campaign spearheaded by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM).
The campaign is aimed at creating greater awareness of what is needed to prepare for tropical systems. It is also reflective of the vision of the Virgin Islands Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy, to support safe, healthy and green communities as a means of building community resiliency in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
To kick-start the campaign, His Excellency, Governor John S. Duncan, OBE and Premier Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE will deliver their annual messages to the Territory which will be available via the electronic and social media and published in local newspapers.
As part of the campaign this year, the DDM will target individuals with special needs and situations including those who are mobility impaired, non-English speaking, have special dietary needs and single parent households. Activities and resource material have been specifically designed for these groups and will be facilitated and distributed through established community-based organisations and programmes and all forms of media.
Forecasters have predicted that the 2015 season will be below average with only seven named storms, three hurricanes, one of which may have the potential to develop into a major hurricane.
Information and Education Manager at the DDM, Ms. Philomena Robertson who is spearheading the campaign cautioned residents not to be lulled into inaction by the predictions of low activity.
“Although the BVI has been spared direct impact from major hurricanes, in recent times, the Territory has been affected by flood events triggered by the passage of significant troughs and other tropical systems. These have caused damage to critical infrastructure and disruption to the delivery of services and normal way of life. It is important that we are not caught off-guard should any of the systems that may develop, affect us,” Ms. Robertson said.
With the season just getting started, the DDM official suggested that it is a good time to check insurance coverage and conduct home and business inspections paying close attention to roofs, windows, doorways and surroundings.
“It is also an opportune time to have discussions with family members and children in particular about what actions should be taken in the event that the Territory is impacted,” she further stated.
The DDM is reminding residents and visitors that a wealth of preparedness information can be found on its website, including the Handbook for Homeowners & Property Developers as well as the Community Disaster Preparedness Guide which is published in both Spanish and English. Other information is available on the DDM website, targeting special groups and individuals. The website can be accessed at www.bviddm.com.
Ms. Robertson said, “In order to provide immediate notification to residents, the DDM maintains active social media sites on Facebook and Twitter and these are supported by public service announcements, available on radio and television and via the YouTube channel. The campaign this year will work in tandem with the efforts of the BVI Tourist Board to ensure that information is available to tourism properties and members of the boating community to provide the necessary preparedness information and regular updates during the passage of any storm.”
The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30. However, it is not uncommon for systems to develop outside of this period and residents are encouraged to maintain a state of preparedness at all times.