The 2018 Hurricane Season has commenced and forecasters have indicated that this season will be an active one. This means that we have to be ready and stay ready from June to November.
I know that the experiences of 2017 still remain current in our minds. We experienced a record breaking year with a major flood event and impacts by two (2) hurricanes of a scale never seen before in this region. I must say, however, that even though the impacts were overwhelming and the destruction catastrophic, we worked together and we welcomed the assistance of our regional and international friends, to recover and to rebuild stronger.
I must say that the rebuilding efforts are difficult, but I am pleased that definite progress has been made. For example, utilities have been re-connected throughout the islands; homes are being repaired; businesses are operating, cruise ships are coming, Government operations are functioning, new developments are happening in the tourism space and more. Life is improving steadily.
Citizens and residents of the Virgin Islands, as a Government working closely with public officers and the private sector, we are doing our best to prepare for this hurricane season.
Now we want you to do your part to support us by ensuring that you get ready and remain ready.
My Government has put measures in place as we prepare for the 2018 Hurricane Season. We need you to be close partners and supporters in this regard because preparedness has become extremely difficult especially considering that the hurricanes are now becoming stronger and the impacts are more devastating.
A lot has been done, but we still have much more to do and the peak of the Hurricane Season will be on us shortly.
I am appealing to community groups and individuals to come together and help us to get homes ready; share information to educate those among us who may never have experienced the impacts we felt last year. Engage the various social media groups to share positive information to help our friends and families get ready.
Considering the level of impacts we had to homes and businesses last year, I am sure many persons throughout the communities are nervous about their homes and properties. I am calling on insurance companies once again to speed up processing outstanding claims so that people can immediately begin to secure their properties. For those persons who do not have insurance, I trust that you were able to take advantage of the housing programme spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and Social Development. The deadline would have been May 31.
Residents who have completed repairs or those who were fortunate not to have suffered much damage must ensure that they pay extra attention to ensuring that their roof is fully braced, and doors and windows have good protection.
In the event that we are under full alert again this year, let us ensure that we are prepared.
I encourage all of us to stock up on as much as you can and start now.
Keep your surroundings clear of debris. Assist your neighbours in the clearing of their property too because what affects them can also impact you.
Update your emergency kits as supplies may be limited when you decide to take action to have them refilled. Also, protect your valuables and memorabilia as the loss of these items can be stressful.
Check your generators and tools and ensure that these are ready. Remember to update medication lists, replace your glasses if you have a new prescription and keep your insurance policies up to date.
Now is the time to take an inventory of the contents of your home. Take photos or videos, close up and faraway of expensive furniture, electronics, jewelry, cars, etc. Be sure to store the images and lists in the Cloud (such as on Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive) and on a flash drive that you can grab quickly when needed. If you haven’t already done so, this would also be the time to scan and store your important documents in a sealed plastic bag.
Remember, we cannot prevent hurricanes from coming, but we can be prepared. Let’s get ready together. Take the time now and make all the needed changes to ensure when the next storm hits you are ready.