People of the Virgin Islands, I come to you with the final of my weekly schedule of updates following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Given the progress made with relief efforts and in consultation with the Premier and the Director of the National Emergency Operations Centre, I have decided to deactivate the NEOC, effective 20th November 2017.
Although emergency operations are being discontinued, the Department of Disaster Management will remain on high alert for the remainder of the year. Be mindful that we are in one of the wettest periods of the year and we must remain in a state of preparedness.
I will be working with the DDM to undertake a review of the response and relief efforts that have taken place so that we can document the lessons learnt and identify best practices that can be useful in the future.
The deactivation of the NEOC signals the transition from response into a period of recovery and continued development. I know that many are still facing difficult times and I expect relief will continue to be provided to the most vulnerable. The focus now is on getting the Territory back on its feet and in particular, getting residents back into their homes and completing utility restoration works. I am pleased to hear from the BVI Electricity Corporation that workers are currently on Jost Van Dyke and are replanting poles. The connection between Jost Van Dyke and Capoon’s Bay is being completed and testing is on-going. It is expected that the connection will be energised by early next week.
The Territory has experienced three unprecedented events and the road to recovery will be a long one. I will continue to work closely with the Premier and Cabinet as we move the Territory forward. I assure you, that Government is working in the best interest of all. We are appealing for your support; we need all hands on deck.
I am extremely grateful to all who have assisted in the response efforts to date. I acknowledge the long hours you have dedicated to providing relief and restoring critical infrastructure. I recognise the personal sacrifices you have made in the interest of the Territory and I applaud your commitment and dedication. To the external workers and volunteers, I cannot thank you enough for your prompt and on-going response in this period of disaster. There is a saying, “many hands make light work”. Together with us, you have helped and continue to help the British Virgin Islands respond to the unprecedented crisis. I thank you for your continued efforts.
This week, we said goodbye to the bulk of the UK police officers who have been working with the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force to support the Territory. I am pleased that officers from Bermuda and the Cayman islands who have been funded by the UK Government will stay with us for months to come.
Please be advised that the curfew remains in effect from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. I encourage you to continue to abide by this law and to give your full cooperation to law enforcement officers.
Finally, I will join the Premier on Saturday to welcome His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales who will be visiting us to see for himself some of devastation caused and the communities affected. Unfortunately he will only be able to visit us for a short time on this occasion, but I am delighted that the heir to the throne will have the opportunity to tour some affected areas on Tortola. He will also visit organisations and meet those involved in the response effort and thank them for their dedication. His Royal Highness will also be visiting the Queen Elizabeth II Park on Saturday afternoon where members of the public will have the opportunity to meet him. Please be there by 2:15 p.m. to ensure that you are part of this event. The UK’s Secretary of State for Development will also accompany His Royal Highness on the visit.
I am immensely pleased to welcome these visitors. It is important that the Virgin Islands, our challenges and our recovery remain at the front of people’s minds around the world.
Let us continue to work together and stay strong.
May God bless us as we journey along the road to recovery and strengthen our resolve to work together for the benefit of this fantastic Territory.
Click below to listen to the audio of the Governor’s message below.