In the next three months the Hurricane Season for 2017-2018 will open ushering in tropical storms and hurricane expectations. Unfortunately it was announced that should a devastating storm or hurricane strike the Territory in coming months, the BVI will not be able to use four critical emergency shelters.
The bad news was delivered to the Standing Finance Committee by the Director of the Disaster Management Department (DDM), Sharleen Dabreo. The DDM Director told Legislators that she is bothered about the shelter situation.
In fact Ms. Dabreo confirmed that the state of the key emergency shelters which are located at various parts of the Territory is her biggest concern. The situation is so dire that for the first time in many years the Department had to remove four of the affected buildings from the list of emergency shelters.
She mentioned that the four that were removed are the Emile Dunlop Community Centre in Anegada, the Ashford Waters Community Center in Virgin Gorda, the Valerie O. Thomas Community Centre, Sea Cows Bay; and the Abraham Leonard Community Centre in Carrot Bay.
Ms. Dabreo in shedding some additional light on the situation explained that the majority of the stricken shelters had been constructed and maintained by community groups. She said that she believes that there is an absence of a handing-over process.
Nonetheless it was mentioned that the DDM is trying to salvage the situation and has already commenced discussions with Rotary International. In fact, Ms. Dabreo pointed out that there is a positive conversation as it relates to Rotary’s assistance in repairing the Emile Dunlop Community Centre in Anegada this year.
Ninth District Representative, Dr. the Hon. Hubert O’Neal requested further information on the removal of the Anegada and Virgin Gorda Community Centers from the list of shelters. In response Dabreo explained that there has not been a formal document that outlines the handing over process of the buildings. She further explained that the responsibility for issues such as maintenance and upkeep of those facilities were never clearly defined in a formal document.
Further the Director said that there is a challenge sourcing investment to maintain many of the shelters which she noted have deteriorated significantly. The DDM Head also told the Committee that the greatest concern is for the Anegada Community Center because it is the main emergency shelter on the island.
As an alternative the Director disclosed that the DDM is in discussion with a new church on Anegada with the hope of being able to use that facility while repairs on the community center are started and completed.
Nonetheless, Dabreo said that she is hopeful that the Rotary Club would come on board and assist at least with covering some of the roofing needs for the building in the first instance.
It was noted that the DDM submitted a report on this precarious situation to Government, and the District Representative Dr. O’Neal. The proposal is said to include an outline of some of the repairs needed on the Anegada Community Center.
These works include the restructuring of the electrical systems as well as roof repairs and resealing of the cistern. Dabreo further stressed that the Rotary Club investment has not been confirmed. However, more discussions will be held with the Club, she said.
It was mentioned that if funding for the repairs are sourced, at least the Emile Dunlop Community Center will be placed again on the list of shelters. In fact, Dabreo announced that the Anegada shelter is a priority because the Department had spent a substantial amount of money purchasing a generator for the facility a few years ago.