The Hurricane Season is upon us: already the daily and weekly weather forecasts are teeming with predictions of tropical storms and hurricane expectations, but unfortunately a hurricane might find some BVI communities without shelters.
The situation of the various hurricane shelters was disclosed to the members of the House of Assembly during the 2017 Standing Finance Committee (SFC) deliberations. During that time Ms. Dabreo announced that for the first time in many years the Department has had to remove four of the affected buildings from the list of emergency shelters.
The four deleted shelters 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.
However, it would appear that nothing substantial was done following the presentation of the Director of DDM to the Standing Finance Committee as it was noted to The Island Sun newspaper this week that the four centers remain off the Department’s list of 2017 hurricane shelters, which means that the shelters are still deemed unsafe for public use.
When the matter was presented to the SFC Ms. Dabreo explained that there is a challenge sourcing investment to maintain many of the buildings which have deteriorated significantly. The DDM Head stressed that the Anegada Community Center it is the main emergency shelter on the northernmost sister island which is now particularly vulnerable in case of hurricanes because it is a flat island.
During The Island Sun interview Ms. Dabreo indicated that the DDM has been in discussions with the Ministry of Health regarding repairs to the Emile E. Dunlop Community Centre. In fact, it was disclosed that the Ministry of Health has agreed to undertake the necessary repairs. It was also mentioned that to date estimates from three Contractors for the repairs have been received.
In the quest to get the Anegada facility up to par it was announced that the DDM has also approached the Rotary Club for assistance in repairing the Emile Dunlop Community Centre.
“We are still in discussions with Rotary as there are other areas on the Community Centre that will require repairs. The Ministry is focusing on the roof which is a major issue but there are other structures that need to be repaired including the cistern and its pump, ramps, plumbing and electrical works etc,” Ms. Dabreo told The Island Sun.
As efforts continue to repair the Emile Dunlop Center Ms. Dabreo announced that the Department is also preparing a backup to ensure that the residents on Anegada have a shelter to turn to. Ms. Dabreo said that the DDM commenced discussions with the Ministry of Education to utilize the school in Anegada in the event that a hurricane is approaching. “We also have one other shelter on the island – namely the Methodist Church which will also be put to use if necessary,” the Director said.