People of the Virgin Islands this is Governor Jaspert. This will be my final message until after Hurricane Maria passes because like you, I would also have to seek safe refuge.
The Territory remains under a hurricane warning and you should now all be on high alert as we prepare for hurricane conditions from Maria—a strong category 5 Hurricane. A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected and preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.
The last update on Maria, issued at 11:00a.m., placed her near latitude 16.3 degrees North, longitude 63.1 degrees West.
Maria is described by forecasters as a potentially catastrophic hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour (mph) with higher gusts. It is therefore a real threat to the Territory and based on the current forecast track, the eye of Maria is expected to approach the Virgin Islands tonight and into Wednesday.
Maria is moving toward the west-northwest near 10 miles per hour and this track takes Maria approximately 52.9miles from Road Town.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.
We must therefore finalise our preparations now and be ready for any likely impacts.
Crews from the Public Works Department, other Ministries and volunteers from within the communities have been assisting with the road and ghut clearing process following Irma. Considering the amount of debris left in the aftermath of Irma, I’m happy to report that the ghut clearing process has been proceeding well, thanks to our collective efforts.
However, I now urge you to remain indoors as we prepare for the passage of Hurricane Maria.
I want to also assure you that the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) remains activated and authorities have done all within their powers, under the circumstance, to prepare for Maria.
The NEOC will continue to serve as the central point for the coordination of response actions, before, during and after the passage of the hurricane, and we will make appropriate decisions in the best interest of the Territory and our people.
The most important thing you can do now is to stay informed and follow the instructions from the local authorities.
I know some homes have been affected by the recent passage of Hurricane Irma so I urge you to make use of one of the hurricane shelters if you need to do so now. We have been advised that 10 to 15 inches of rain is likely to fall, with isolated amounts of 20 inches possible in some areas. People in low-lying, flood prone areas should move to higher ground and away from areas where mudslides can occur.
Due to the recent power outage, I know some of you have been using generators for electricity. I urge you to turn the generators off during the passage of Hurricane Maria and do not use generators indoors as high levels of poisonous carbon monoxide can be produced.
Military officers from the UK, Cayman Islands and Bermuda remain in the Territory, reinforcing the local police across the Virgin Islands. Together, we will be ready to ensure security is maintained, and the relief effort continues as soon as Hurricane Maria passes.
Finally, I leave you with a message from Her Majesty the Queen in the United Kingdom. She told me she has been following the situation intently, and everyone in the Territory is in her thoughts and prayers.
Continue to be resilient and united; working together to ensure we are all prepared for the hurricane and ready to continue rebuilding once it has passed.
Stay strong, stay resilient, stay united.
May God Bless and protect us all.