People of the Virgin Islands community, as we observe the start of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane season, I join the Department of Disaster Management in emphasising the importance of making disaster preparedness all-inclusive.
We have a culturally diverse community in the British Virgin Islands that allows for the integration of people of different cultures and different languages from around the world. It is very important that they too are equally prepared to deal with potential hazard impacts.
While it is an individual responsibility to become acquainted with the native language and cultures of the country or territory in which one lives, it is also incumbent upon the relevant authorities to maximise the reach of public education efforts and ensure that all within the population are receiving relevant hazard awareness information in a form that is understandable and allows them to take prompt actions when needed.
Disaster preparedness is everybody’s business. An individual or group of individuals who lack awareness of disaster preparedness practices do not only constitute a risk to individual safety but can also jeopardise the safety of others around them in the event of an emergency.
If we are to effectively improve the resilience of the BVI, it is imperative that we are continuously addressing the issue of vulnerable communities and persons who have little understanding of what it takes to withstand the impact of meteorological hazards such as floods and hurricanes.
The campaign being run by the DDM this year focuses on ensuring that these vulnerable persons are identified and every effort is made to make them aware of what actions they need to take in preparation for the hurricane season and in the aftermath if we are impacted by a hurricane.
The theme chosen for the 2015 hurricane season campaign is “Be SMART – Preparedness leads to resiliency”.
As we all know, hazards can impact us at any time and it is important that we are fully prepared to deal with this threat; that we are aware of the actions to be taken before, during and after and that we can work together in our respective communities to improve overall resilience.
It is particularly important that we do not become complacent. Forecasters have predicted that the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season will be “one of the least active seasons since the middle of the 20th century”. Explaining what is expected to be below average likelihood of major hurricanes making landfall in the Caribbean, forecasters predict that 2015 will have only three hurricanes and seven named storms, with one of the three forecasted hurricanes expected to be major.
That being said, we must also recognise that the first system of the 2015 hurricane season was recorded three weeks prior to the actual start of the season. Though Tropical Storm Ana was never a threat to the British Virgin Islands, her very existence underscores why there’s no room for complacency.
The BVI remains vulnerable to tropical cyclones and we must all be prepared. The Department of Disaster Management is available to assist communities and individuals as they prepare for the season ahead. I therefore encourage you to support the DDM in its mission to improve resiliency. Find out what hazard awareness resources and other tools are available to you, your family and your friends to help prepare for this hurricane season. Prepare today for if or when the next hurricane strikes.
“Be SMART – Preparedness leads to resiliency.”