Good day to all the people of the Virgin Islands.
I hope that you have found some time over the course of the weekend to not only ensure that you have done what is needed to increase your preparedness levels but to also rest and rejuvenate, because we begin this week facing the approach of Tropical Storm Karen.
As of 11:00 A.M today, BVI was placed on a Tropical Storm Warning, which means that tropical storm conditions are expected within the territory within the next 12-24 hours. On the current forecast track, the center of Karen will move across the eastern Caribbean Sea today, and pass near or over the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Tuesday.
The Premier and I along with representatives from ministries and key agencies received updates on the system from the DDM early this morning and will be making an official statement this evening at 6:00 P.M. on the status of Tropical Storm Karen and of any related closures of public offices and schools tomorrow. These official messages will be aired on local radio and disseminated through the Government and DDM’s website and social media sites.
I know that you are anxious to know what Government’s plan is for Tropical Storm Karen. As a relatively disorganized system, Karen is subject to change. We will act on the latest information at 5:00 P.M. and make a decision with our “better safe than sorry” mantra as our guide.
In the meantime, there is still much we can do to prepare. As always, forecasts are subject to change, but the present information about Karen is that even if this system deteriorates into a tropical depression, the Territory may still be subject to hazardous seas, squally conditions including heavy rains that can result in flash flooding. This means that we need to Be Ready. If you are in a low-lying area, along the coastline or other areas prone to flooding, now is the time to decide on the measures you will take to protect your property and belongings. Also decide if you need to temporarily take shelter with friends or family
For those who need to seek refuge, the government owned Long Trench Community Shelter and the North Sound Community Centre are open. We have also identified some priority privately owned emergency shelters on Anegada and Jost Van Dyke that can be activated should the need arise. We are indeed grateful to the owners of these private facilities who have agreed to partner with us to provide refuge for those in need.
As with previous systems, public officers should take extra care when leaving work today to secure equipment, offices, documents and other public assets to protect them from this approaching system. We urge the same for the private sector as well.
Thank you in advance for your vigilance in monitoring this system, and for the diligence and care I know you would invest in preparing yourselves and looking out for each other. This is the effort we all must put in to help the Territory achieve a consistent approach to managing hazard impacts and disasters which involves being cautious, caring, responsible and to always Be Ready.