My Fellow Virgin Islanders, residents, visitors and people of the Virgin Islands.
We are now in the clean-up and recovery phase following the effects of the Tropical Wave that affected our Territory on 7 August, 2017. Based on radar estimates, 17 inches of rain fell in less than 17 hours! This was truly an unprecedented experience for this Territory.
We are all grateful to God that no lives were lost. As a resilient people we have been working together non-stop to mitigate the effects of this storm.
Our assessments thus far indicate that while the entire Territory experienced heavy rains, most of the damage is concentrated on Tortola. An initial assessment has shown significant damage to the Road Network on Tortola as well as interruption of the water distribution system. Schools throughout Tortola have also sustained damage.
Whilst we continue the recovery work, it is important that we provide you with an update on our recovery efforts at this time. The team at the Ministry of Communication and Works (MCW) has been making a concentrated effort to ensure that the Territory gets back to a state of normalcy.
Power has been restored to most areas throughout the Territory. BVI Electricity Corporation (BVIEC) crews continue to work assiduously to ensure that the power is restored to the entire Territory as soon as possible. Access to areas where poles have fallen is the main issue now to be addressed. As soon as the BVIEC teams can take care of these fallen poles, power will be restored to those affected areas.
The team at Water and Sewerage Department (WSD) is assessing the water network. As for now, the water distribution continues to be monitored closely. This will ensure that compromised areas of the network are remedied, thereby allowing only potable water to be distributed to our customers. This is important to ensure clean and safe reliable supply. Restoration work is already at an advanced stage and the water supply is expected to be back to normal by tomorrow.
Crews from the Public Works Department (PWD) continue to work to clear the debris from the roadways and ensure that these roads are safe for our people to traverse. The priority is to clear the main road arteries first which would allow the PWD team to gain access to the feeder roads where persons may be trapped in their homes. The priority areas at this time are; Central Road Town, East End and North Side. We encourage you as much as possible to allow the teams from Public Works and BVIEC to undertake the necessary restorative work by limiting the amount of traffic that is traversing these priority areas. Unencumbered access will allow the teams to complete the work in the shortest possible time.
Reports from BVI Tourist Board (BVITB) indicated that overall the industry escaped relatively unscathed. I am pleased to say that the tourism industry both land and sea remains operational. All the airports and seaports throughout the Territory are currently opened and fully functional.
Multi-agency teams including representatives from the BVI Red Cross (BVIRC), Rotary and other volunteer organisations have been established and have started to assess the damage so we can have a full picture of the relief and restoration works that is needed. Additionally, work is being done on homes, critical infrastructure, and government facilities.
Although several homes were flooded, there was no need for any of the emergency shelters to be activated; thanks to the community spirit of our people. I encourage more of our people to lend a helping hand to those who suffered loss, whether through buying groceries or helping those who lost much of their household goods to get replacements.
Most businesses in Road Town area suffered damage from water, mud slides and the like. After the rains subsided, I observed that most owners immediately following the deluge, set to work drying out water, clearing the damage and restoring their operations. This is the true evidence of our resilience. I was really gratified to see this.
At this time, I thank the residents and private sector for assisting in this recovery effort. I want to particularly acknowledge the hard and tireless work being done by Government departments. Indeed, we have been working as a team to help with the clean-up and I applaud your collective efforts so far and encourage you to continue to work together as we restore or islands.
Also, I wish to thank the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) for their efforts. As we have seen last month and again on Monday, it does not take a named system to create havoc. I therefore encourage us not to take the weather warning lightly. As the effects can be just as devastating and have significant impact on our development. So let us continue to remain vigilant and work together.
I thank you for your patience as we continue our recovery efforts.
Finally, I would like at this time to thank all those who participated in our Festival activities; those who participated in the parade, those who provided music, food, drink and whatever else it takes to make our festival a success. I want to especially thank all those visitors who came to the Virgin Islands to help us celebrate our emancipation. I appreciate your understanding in the face of an unexpected and unprecedented heavy downpour which has caused us to cancel all further activities.
I know that we will all work together towards the next activities, and look forward to welcoming all our visitors back to the Virgin Islands.