Even though hurricane Dorian was not supposed to have adverse effects on the Territory, before it visited the BVI a number of residents (who are reportedly traumatized by the scary events of 2017) decided to go to shelters. As a result of this psychological aspect Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Hon. Vincent Wheatley has called for psychological support to be part of future territorial hurricane preparedness.
The Minister while speaking in the House of Assembly on 2 September said that he noted that a number of persons during the hours leading up to the passage of hurricane Dorian were reliving the horrors of Irma and Maria. He told the House of Assembly: “Just before the hurricane I had a notion that I should go around and check on people. I went to the first home and I realized this person was living Irma as if Irma was upon us once more, panicked, frightened, uncertain. I went to a second home, same thing. People have not healed as yet from the ravages of hurricane Irma.”
In fact, Hon. Wheatley told the House of Assembly the fears are common, as he has also experienced hurricane related panic: “It is as vivid to them today as it was yesterday. Me too, whenever the wind blows up a little 60 knots you swear it’s 200, it’s a hurricane – is the window going to blow in. All memories from Irma just flood you one time.”
Further, Hon. Wheatley said that the level of fear was so great that residents left their homes and went to shelters even though there was no reason to do so: “I went to seniors homes – I went to both shelters on Virgin Gorda – sat with the people in the shelters, they were freaking out. Some of their homes were better than the home I was in, but they felt a little more comfortable being in a shelter knowing that there would be better help. I went to the shelter and I sat, I spoke with them; and reassured them,” Hon. Wheatley added.
The Minister for Labour called for intervention into the matter now that is needed as part of the ongoing hurricane preparations efforts: “What we need to do going forward is before the hurricane make sure people are properly prepared, not only in terms of food, water and medicine but that they’re emotionally prepared to deal with a storm. I don’t think they were emotionally prepared this time,” he stated.
Premier Fahie told the House: “Mr. Speaker, one issue that emerged during this event is the fact that many of our citizens continue to suffer with lingering effects of the trauma of their experiences with hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.”
According to the Premier persons were reacting to news of hurricane Dorian as if it was another an encore of hurricanes Irma and Maria: “For many, Mr Speaker, the arrival of Dorian caused them to relive some of the horrors and anxieties of what they went through just two short years ago,” the Premier told the House of Assembly.
Therefore, Hon. Fahie stated that some sort of intervention was needed to assist persons who were still going through emotional pain from their 2017 experiences. The Premier told the House of Assembly that the Minster of Health, Hon. Carvin Malone was asked to look into providing assistance in this regard.