Good day to all.
Since yesterday, as expected, the system we were following so closely has intensified and become Tropical Storm Grace.
The Department of Disaster Management team has briefed me, and I can share that at 5:00 p.m. today, this system was located about 253 miles east-southeast of the Virgin Islands, with sustained wind speeds of 45 miles per hour. At this point, forecasters expect Grace will pass to the south of us, and the Virgin Islands remains on Tropical Storm Warning. We will likely see the effects from its outer bands beginning tomorrow morning.
Based on the current reports, those effects will be rough seas, especially on the southern sides of the islands, and the possibility of strong winds and heavy rains. Based on our geography, southern portions of Tortola and the island of Jost Van Dyke are more likely to see these conditions.
As always, there is the possibility that conditions or the path of this system can change; as such, the entire BVI needs to take steps to prepare. I have activated the National Emergency Operations Centre at Level One, which is a monitoring level.
After a meeting this afternoon with the National Emergency Operations Centre Operations Group, I am pleased to report that the Territory is well prepared to face this system.
Our police, fire and emergency health teams are monitoring conditions closely and are standing by in the event there is a need to respond. Our public assets have been secured, and plans have been activated to ensure the continued operation of the Territory’s vital health and safety services.
I encourage all in the Virgin Islands community to follow suit. It is essential to review your plans, secure your homes and businesses, and assemble your emergency supplies just in case.
Tomorrow, stay at home and stay safe rather than risk being out on the roads in adverse conditions.
At this time, I would ask you all to share a thought and a prayer for our neighbours in Haiti, who faced a strong earthquake this morning amid a global pandemic and a busy hurricane season.
It is a sobering reminder that we live in a region that is vulnerable to many different types of hazards, which is why we must work so hard to Be Ready.
Let us all pray that Tropical Storm Grace grants us – and the rest of the region – a bit of grace.
John J. Rankin, CMG
Governor of the Virgin Islands