Hurricane Irma in particular had ravaged the VI on September 6, 2017, leaving four dead.
The VI’s recovery has been mainly due to its own efforts, since it has not been able to take any major loans for recovery due to the reported “trappings” of the loan guarantee offered by the United Kingdom (UK).
In his 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season Message on June 1, 2022, Dr Wheatley said close collaboration between the Government of the Virgin Islands and the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) brought the territory a number of redeveloped roads and public buildings from Anegada to Jost van Dyke.
“The full list is long, but I would highlight the works done at the Road Town Police Station, repairs to administration buildings on all sister islands, BVI Fire and Rescue Services Headquarters, the Ballast Bay and Little Dix Hill roads, as well as the improved water reservoirs at Carrot Bay and Long Bush.
“I would also highlight numerous recovery projects that are ongoing, again in partnership with local authorities, international funders, and local private contractors, including a new National Emergency Operations Centre, a redeveloped Fish Bay road, a new Market Square in Road Town and the rapidly progressing Elmore Stoutt High School.”
Dr Wheatley added that working closely with the European Union and PAHO have meant that key community centres on Anegada that also serve as emergency shelters have been repaired to a high standard and will soon be handed over.
“Of course, recovery would not be possible without the strong backing of our local economic pillars of tourism and financial services. Despite the lingering effects of the pandemic and other uncertainty in our Territory, both these sectors have showed signs of strengthening this year. As global restrictions ease, I look forward to even greater growth in these key areas.”
Premier Wheatley said the VI people should take pride that they have not only survived that unprecedented impact, but came through it wiser and stronger and “we are working together to have truly built back a better Virgin Islands.”
The Premier also urged the VI to be prepared for anything this hurricane season.
“While forecasters advise us to brace for a busier than average season, as the people of the Virgin Islands already well know, it only takes one storm to impact us and therefore, we must be prepared.”
He said now is the time to review and update emergency plans and emergency supply kits.
Dr Wheatley also said now is when persons should take steps to protect property by inspecting structures, shoring up homes and businesses where needed, and removing hazards from around the exterior.
“For those who are able, now is also the time to identify vulnerable members of our extended families or villages to see what assistance may be needed. If we find ourselves in need this season, please let’s reach out to employers, neighbours, friends and family members to make a plan for how we might best be able weather a possible storm.”
The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30, although hurricanes have occurred outside of this period.