Message by His Excellency Governor John S. Duncan, OBE
October 13, 2014
Good afternoon everyone.
Many of you would have been following the progress of Tropical Storm Gonzalo which is expected to begin impacting the Territory late tonight. The latest forecast has indicated that maximum sustained winds have increased to 65 miles per hour and forecasters have indicated that additional strengthening is expected before the system reaches the BVI.
In response to the potential threat posed by Tropical Storm Gonzalo and after working closely with the Honourable Premier and on the advice of the Department of Disaster Management, I have activated the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC). I will be working with the Honourable Premier, the Deputy Governor and the Director of the DDM this afternoon.
As the impact of this weather system is not expected until late tonight, it is recommended that we use the latter part of the day to ensure that our homes and personal property are secured.
For the private sector, I expect that the relevant preparatory steps are being taken to secure operations and ensure continuity of business.
I am satisfied that the various agencies are fully aware of the impending threat and have activated their disaster plans and begun taking the necessary precautionary measures.
Residents should be aware that several actions have had to be taken to safeguard the Territory’s key assets.
· The International Airport will close at 4:00 p.m. and airports on Virgin Gorda and Anegada will close at 2:45 p.m. However, many airlines have already cancelled their flights or suspended services for the day.
· Ferry operations to Anegada have been cancelled and operators are in the process of securing their vessels. Speedy’s will continue normal operations until 6:30 p.m from Beef Island to accommodate persons who need to return home to Virgin Gorda but please check with the ferry company for latest information.
· Port services in St. Thomas are expected to close at 6:00 p.m. and this will obviously impact on operations between the two territories.
· The Ministry of Education and Culture has already notified parents that public schools will close at 1:00 p.m. today. Government offices will close at 2:00 p.m. and officials should listen to the radio station ZBVI for information on returning to work on Tuesday.
The level of rainfall expected with Tropical Storm Gonzalo is our major concern and the Public Works Department is currently taking steps to ensure that ghuts are cleared to minimise the potential for flooding.
Based on the forecast, tropical storm conditions will continue well into the day on Tuesday but we expect to be able to provide an all-clear before the end of the day tomorrow.
I encourage all residents to undertake their final preparations this afternoon and to be safe during the passage of the storm.