September 17, 20101527Views

Friday, September 17  Dr. Juan Carlos Virella, of Virella Crespo and Associates, a company based in Puerto Rico, is currently in the Territory undertaking an engineering assessment at the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) to evaluate the proposed site of the new National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC).

Dr. Virella, a civil and structural engineer and a former lecturer at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, is well known to  DDM and has contributed significantly towards the development of the Quantitative Risk Assessment Project for the Territory. This Project has been recognized regionally as a major achievement for the Virgin Islands’ Disaster Management Programme.

On Wednesday, the Premier, Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE, signed contract with Virella Crespo and Associates to undertake the civil and engineering works, to accompany the recently completed architectural and geotechnical works for the new site.

DDM Director, Ms. Sharleen DaBreo, explained that she had every confidence that PWD architects was capable of delivering sound architectural designs, which was  evident by the draft architectural plans that they developed for the new facility. Geotechnical works had already been completed by JACA & Sierra Testing Laboratories of Puerto Rico. The Director went on to say, “Dr. Virella was chosen because of his extensive background in earthquake engineering and the need to ensure that the new NEOC is thus designed to the highest standards, to withstand the hazards to which the VI is prone.”

Earlier this year,  DDM received approval from Cabinet for the development of the design phase of the project. In the paper to Cabinet, DDM indicated that every effort would be made to document the design and construction phase of the project to develop a best practice case study. This will clearly illustrate how design technologies can be incorporated into local construction to create safer buildings that can withstand the impact of various hazards, while maintaining an affordable cost to developers.

The Deputy Governor’s Office is providing the funds to cover the costs relating to the Geotechnical and Engineering works, estimated at $50,000.

DDM will continue to give updates of the progress of the new NEOC and will continue to play an important role in the VI Disaster Management Programme.