State of Emergency Declared in BVI after Severe Flooding

The entire BVI Territory has been declared a state of emergency by Governor William Boyd McCleary on Wednesday following severe flooding, while the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) said it is the worst flood that has ever hit the islands: “… I Decided to proclaim a state of emergency in the Territory. I will also be making an Order declaring three areas as disaster areas – Capoons Bay, Pockwood Pond and Prospect Reef, to enable Public Works to go into these areas and carry out any necessary works,” the Governor announced on Wednesday afternoon during a press conference held at the Department of Disaster Management (DDM).
However, the Governor said at this time there is no need for external help and no need for residents to get anxious. “Because we are facing further heavy rains over the next 24 hours and beyond, we thought it was important to give ourselves the power to take such action as is necessary to create drainage or culverts in those areas where there might be flooding. So although we might have declared a state of emergency across the Territory, it doesn´t mean that the Territory as whole is under threat. What we are saying is that we have to do that in order to make specific orders in those areas where we have specific problems.”
The Governor further stated, “So people should not be concerned that we are in a disaster situation in general. We are in a difficult situation where people have suffered hardships…We would do what we can to relieve those problems. There is not a need for the general population to be anxious because the situation is generally under control, but we do have to recognise that this has been a big impact.”
The decisions were made following a meeting held by the National Emergency Operations Centre which was chaired by the Governor. They discussed the conditions within the Territory and plans for the response activities that are required.
The Governor said from speaking to persons in and around Territory, he was told that this is the worst flooding that has hit the BVI.
Sharleen Dabreo, Director of DDM concurred and said that it is the worst, even when compared to the 2003 floods.
At the press conference, the Governor said that they will be holding a meeting later tonight to discuss the situation. He said they will also decide on whether Government offices and schools should remain closed.
Governor McCleary said the damage caused by this flooding has bypassed that of Earl. Four shelters are now open and persons are encouraged to utilise the shelters.
The Governor urged residents to stay clear and allow crews from the Public Works Department to carry out their works. The Government has also urged those who have no business being on the roads to stay clear. The Public Works Department is currently clearing areas as quickly as possible.
The Governor said weather stations recorded that 10.2 inches of rain fell yesterday and 5.99 inches thus far today, with reported sustained winds of 35mph and wind gust of 42 mph.
He noted that more rain is expected tonight and into tomorrow. A Flash Flood Warning remains in effect for the Virgin Islands until 8:00 pm this evening.
“Although the heaviest rain may end by Thursday night, scattered showers can still be expected into Saturday morning. Flooding will continue to remain the greatest hazard from this weather system. This strongest squalls could bring wind gusts in the range of 35-45mph across the islands,” the Governor told reporters.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Communications and Works Ministry, Arlene Smith was also present at the press conference.

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