Key agencies in the Virgin Islands discuss preparations for hurricane season

Tortola,Virgin Islands, June 04, 2009 (Department of Disaster Management)– The National Disaster Management Council (NDMC) convened its annual meeting today, chaired by His Excellency the Governor David Pearey at the Maria’s By The Sea Hotel’s Conference Room. The agenda included reports from the various subcommittees, presentations on the April 2nd National Simulation Exercise and the level of preparedness of the Territory for the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season. Of particular interest was the presentation on the VI Comprehensive Disaster Management Policy and Strategy, which was recently approved by Cabinet.

In his opening remarks, Governor Pearey told the Council that the newly revamped NDMC’s structure is apparently working well, as committee chairpersons have clearer understandings of their roles and responsibilities. The Governor also had high praise for all who worked hard to complete revisions to and for the testing of the National Disaster Management Plan. He stressed the importance of the roles of Heads of Departments in ensuring that their internal disaster management plans are developed, implemented and tested for their individual departments, which is a requirement under the Virgin Islands Disaster Management Act 2003.

The Deputy Chairman, The Honourable Premier, Ralph T. O’Neal, who spearheads the Mitigation and Recovery Processes, was also in attendance and addressed the Council. He commended the Department of Disaster Management for the work that it is doing, and stressed the importance of disaster preparedness in the Territory; he went on to state that the cost of hurricanes and storms could set a government’s economic development back 5-10 years if they are not adequately prepared and, consequently, severely impacted.

In his address, The Premier, further stated, “Government, has for many years, given a lot of thought to disaster management; and the Virgin Islands leads former British Colonies in disaster preparedness.” He expressed his appreciation to all those, past and present, who contributed to the Territory’s disaster management programme; and he noted that persons are becoming more conscious of the hazards and the need to prepare for them.

The Meeting concluded with the Council defining a number of key actions for follow up; some of which included the need to increase the awareness and level of preparedness within the private sector and the need for constant renewal of the message of preparedness. A complete report from the Meeting, including a statement on the level of preparedness of the Territory, will be presented to Cabinet in the coming weeks.

Department of Disaster Management
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