June 1, 20151701Views

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

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.