People of the Virgin Islands this is Governor Jaspert. Today (Monday, September 18) I must focus this message on the new developments with Hurricane Maria, now a category 3 hurricane. We are officially now on hurricane warning. All residents are urged to take all necessary action to protect life and property.
Satellite imagery shows that Maria is intensifying. Additional rapid strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria is expected to be a dangerous major hurricane as it moves through the Leeward Islands.
Maria is moving toward the west-northwest near 10 miles per hour (mph). On the forecast track, the centre of Maria will likely pass near the Virgin Islands on Wednesday.
Given the dangerous storm surge and large, destructive waves expected, people in vulnerable coastal and low lying areas should move further inland or to elevated areas. We also expect significant rainfall and flooding. People living on hillsides or near ghuts should move to safer locations. Preparation to protect life should now be rushed to completion.
It is important that you secure your current location after damage sustained by the recent passage of hurricane Irma and make sure it is safe. Make preparations to remain at your designated safe place by stocking food and water for at least three days.
Everybody should focus on moving debris from around properties as these can become flying projectiles and cause harm to persons and damage property.
Due to the imminent threat of Hurricane Maria and the urgent need to clear ghuts and remaining debris, we need your help. In consultation with the Premier and Cabinet, I have put in place a special curfew from 6pm tonight, Monday, which will run continuously until the all-clear for Hurricane Maria has been given. This means for all day Tuesday prior to the hurricane, you must not use your vehicle on the road. This will allow for essential public works to be carried out.
However, there is an urgent need for people to help neighbours in their community to clear up debris or support those who may be vulnerable, once they have ensured security for themselves. This means even after the curfew has started, we are encouraging everybody to help clear debris, but to keep your vehicles off the roads. I have seen the incredible community spirit across these islands, and now is the time to use that spirit for the safety of us all.
Our emergency shelters remain active throughout the Territory and are available for residents of the various districts. Please make use of these shelters in advance to help ensure your safety during the hurricane.
Today additional military personnel from the UK and police from Bermuda have arrived to reinforce the military and police currently on the ground across the Virgin Islands. Together, we will be ready to ensure security is maintained instantly, and the relief effort continues as soon as Hurricane Maria passes.
Continue to be resilient and united; working together to ensure we are all prepared for the storm and ready to continue rebuilding once it has passed.
Stay strong, stay resilient, stay united.
May God Bless and protect us all.
Note To All: Since Recording This Message, Maria Has Been Upgraded To A Category 4 Hurricane