Message from Hon Kye Rymer
Deputy Premier of the Virgin Islands and Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities and Representative for the Fifth District
Reflections on the Passage of Hurricane Dorian
August 29, 2019
Fellow Virgin Islanders, Residents and Visitors, a pleasant good morning to you.
I want to take this opportunity to extend my sincere gratitude and commendations to our first responders, public officers and other officers in the Department of Public Works as well as in the utilities sector, for the dedication and commitment they displayed prior to and during the passage of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Dorian yesterday.
The Virgin Islands were initially not forecasted to experience any major impact from Dorian. However, late Tuesday afternoon this changed and we found Dorian on our doorstep, bringing tropical storm conditions.
To their credit, the workers in the respective agencies were able to quickly mobilise and engage emergency protocols. This became especially important since Dorian, surprisingly, upgraded to Category 1 strength while passing through the Territory, causing more intense winds, gusts, rain, localised flooding and other minor damages.
On behalf of the Premier, this morning I joined the Governor and an officer from the PWD on an aerial reconnaissance trip – a fly-over – as part of an assessment on the full scope of impact of Hurricane Dorian.
I am pleased to report that besides an invasion of sargassum on Anegada and minor landslides, everything else seemed to be in order. However, on the ground, there is still much work to be done and we will definitely be addressing those hotspot areas as we continue as a Ministry and a Government to do our part to reduce any future impact of hurricanes on the Territory’s environment and infrastructure.
As a result of preparedness and dedication, our agencies were able to respond promptly to the circumstances as they unfolded yesterday. This minimised the discomfort, displacement and damage around the territory, as well as shortening the recovery time for clearing debris and bringing services back online. For your yeoman service, the Territory is grateful.
Ongoing work to prepare for the 2019 hurricane season, such as clearing of ghuts and major watercourses, also helped to mitigate the impact of Dorian on our communities. This work will, of course, continue throughout the Territory as we move forward.
I also want to take this opportunity to recognise the contributions of the staff at the Department of Disaster Management and the members of the National Emergency Operations Centre, who left the comfort of their homes and their families to ensure the safety of the community and to lead us through this event.
Clean-up operations will continue in some affected areas today even as rain clouds gather overhead. I want to advise members of the public to exercise caution as you resume your activities. Tree branches may have become weakened, rocks may have become loosened, and so forth. Remember that safety comes first, always.
Further, let us see what lessons we can learn from this experience to improve our preparedness and responsiveness for the future. Indeed, one lesson Dorian has taught us is that we must be prepared for anything always.
May God continue to watch over and protect us.
I thank you.