His Excellency the Governor John J. Rankin, CMG, who chairs the National Disaster Management Council (NDMC), congratulated the members of the council during the body’s virtual meeting on Thursday, June 16, 2022, on steps taken so far and urged the team to carry on with their efforts, a press release from Government Information Sevice (GIS) stated.
“The risk of hurricanes and other hazards has not gone away,” Governor Rankin said, adding, “Last year, thankfully, we skipped any major impact, but we should be mindful there’s no guarantee that we will be so fortunate again.”
Some of the key actions taken so far to ensure that the Territory will be ready this hurricane season include completing a Readiness Assessment for Critical Services within the public and private sector, completion of the Territory’s Continuity of Education Plan, training for search and rescue officers, public outreach events, and clearance of ghuts and waterways. These and other measures were reported by heads of NDMC committees in the areas of health, finance, governance, the environment, education, infrastructure, and public awareness.
Sister Islands Coordinator Ms Sasha D.A. Flax also shared ongoing efforts to safeguard residents on the islands of Anegada, Jost van Dyke, and Virgin Gorda.
Premier Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) reminded the members that their efforts are vital to protect the Territory.
“As we have been preaching, especially since 2017, we must be prepared. We cannot simply hope that we won’t be impacted,” Dr Wheatley said.
The group also heard a report on expectations for the 2022 season from Department of Disaster Management Acting Director Jasen Penn.
“The different forecasters each expect in excess of 20 named storms this season. With that level of expected activity, we all have to work together to make the needed preparations as early as possible,” Mr Penn said.
The NDMC is the inter-agency body that sets territorial disaster risk reduction policy. This body is responsible for carrying out actions that are in keeping with the Disaster Management Act and the Virgin Islands Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategic Plan. The group includes Permanent Secretaries, the Financial Secretary, and the Director of Communications as well as leaders from key government departments, statutory bodies, and non-governmental partners.