Good day one and all.
By now, you would all be on high alert as we prepare for the passage of Tropical Storm Dorian. As small systems are prone to do, Dorian has strengthened and changed track. Based on current modelling, further strengthening is expected, and the Virgin Islands is now under Hurricane Warning. This means that hurricane conditions are expected within the Territory within 24 hours. We are already experiencing some of the effects from the outer bands. Therefore, I strongly urge all residents to now stay off the roads for non-essential traffic. To ensure residents’ safety during the height of the storm a curfew will be in place and will be enforced beginning at 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. Thursday morning, or until an all-clear is issued by the proper authorities. Only essential personnel should be on the roads.
Based on the 11:00 a.m. forecast, we are now bracing for the likelihood that the eye of Dorian may pass between the BVI and the USVI, with northeastern quadrant of the storm passing directly over the Virgin Islands, bringing hurricane-force winds. It is therefore a real threat to the Territory, especially for those persons who may still be in vulnerable homes.
At this point we advise residents in those vulnerable locations to utilize their shutters where possible and take all precautions to secure their homes. The National Emergency Operations Centre has also opened select emergency shelters, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church in The Valley, Virgin Gorda, the North Sound Community Centre in North Sound, Virgin Gorda; The Church of God of Prophecy on Jost Van Dyke; the Long Trench Community Centre in Long Trench; and the Church of God of Prophecy in Long Look, Tortola.
I want to assure you that the authorities are undertaking all necessary precautions to safeguard the people of the Territory. We continue to analyse all the forecasts and are responding to this rapidly changing system.
As I advised earlier, the NEOC was activated by the Premier and myself today at about 7:00 a.m. This mechanism will provide a central point for the coordination of response actions. Heads of agencies and departments have been overseeing the process of securing government assets and putting their essential staff and equipment in communities in place for any responses that may be needed. Other public servants have been asked to remain home, with non-essential government offices closed for the day.
The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force patrols are operating across all locations and will remain on patrol unless conditions become unsafe to do so, at which point they will take up holding positions in pre-determined locations. Residents should have completed their preparations and should refrain from being on the road at this time. Police officers will enforce the curfew from 2pm today and we ask the public for their full cooperation.
I would strongly encourage the private sector to prioritise the safety and security of their businesses and staff, and ask that they close operations immediately.
Like all tropical storms, Dorian brings uncertainty, and, for those of us who experienced the storms of 2017, uncomfortable memories. Take heart, and remember that the most important thing that you can do at this time is to be ready. Finalise your hurricane preparations, stay informed and follow the instructions from the NEOC.
Please monitor all media platforms including radio, the websites of the Department of Disaster Management (bviddm.com) and the BVI Government (bvi.gov.vg), as well as the DDM’s Facebook page for updates on Dorian’s progress and safety tips.
To all in the Virgin Islands, my message to you is to be ready and stay safe.
May God bless and protect the Territory.