Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE presented an update on the current status of the Territory’s Hurricane Recovery and Restoration efforts at a meeting held in Miami over the weekend.
Premier Smith left the Territory on October 27 and joined colleague Premiers and Chief Ministers from the Caribbean British Overseas Territories to discuss progress being made and to agree collective actions in support of the affected Territories. He also highlighted some of the lessons learned from the series of unprecedented weather events during the 2017 hurricane season.
The Premier explained that in the BVI, Hurricanes Irma and Maria were preceded by an intense flood event in August, which had already severely impacted the Territory.
Premier Smith expressed thanks and appreciation for the deep level of support received from his colleagues in the immediate after math of Hurricane Irma.
He thanked the Premiers of the Cayman Islands and Bermuda for their continued assistance with law enforcement officers and linesmen to assist in the restoration of electricity supply. The Premier further appealed for additional assistance with linesmen as the restoration of the power supply is a key component to the BVI’s recovery effort.
Meanwhile, the leaders agreed that Hurricane Recovery and Reconstruction should be the focus of the annual Joint Ministerial Council Meeting, due to the significant number of territories affected and the high level of devastation wrought by the unprecedented 2017 hurricane season.
The leaders discussed the likelihood for the continuing increase in the intensity of hurricanes and other severe weather events in the region as a result of climate change, and identified the need for strong economic support to sustain their economies to face this challenge. They recommitted themselves to working together and to ensuring that this concern would be the focus of the upcoming Joint Ministerial Council meeting with Her Majesty’s Government late next month.
The meeting also highlighted the efforts of Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat and the Falkland Islands as a reflection of the strong bond which exists between the people of the Territories, which is also shared with the United Kingdom.
Territory Leaders committed to continued support of each other in disaster management and mitigation strategies; sharing information, expertise and best practices in communications and physical planning.
The British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean region include Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Joint Ministerial Council is held in London annually and provides an opportunity for United Kingdom’s Overseas Territory Leaders to discuss matters of concern directly with Her Majesty’s Government.