What was organized to be a routine public meeting between Ninth District Representative, Dr. the Hon. Hubert O’Neal and his constituents morphed into a candid discussion as the residents of Virgin Gorda boldly declared that they feel unrepresented and neglected. Some even made veiled promises to not re-elect the current representative.
As Dr. O’Neal begged understanding stating that “things take time” a resident responded –“We don’t have any time,” while another rebuked the Legislator for speaking in future tense-as opposed to stating what he is currently doing to help.
The residents became most concerned at the suggestion that plans were being made for Virgin Gorda without input from the local community. Following this point, and against a back drop of applause and shouts of ‘thank you’ a resident went on to state that the community is not satisfied with their representation.
“To be honest the frustration in this room is that we don’t feel represented. We waited seven or eight weeks now for you to talk to us — that is our frustration. We don’t know any plans, we don’t know any ideas, we don’t know what you are putting in place to assist us. We don’t know nothing. Everybody in this room is fending for themselves and helping each other – that is the frustration. We are asking you as our rep (representative) what do you have in place for the Ninth District. If you don’t have any input then we don’t know what we are getting,” the resident said.
Another Virgin Gordian stated that the island is doing better because Virgin Gorda has a very unique community that works together and that as a community they developed a Committee called VG ROC which has been hands on with response efforts. Additionally it was noted that wealthy residents of the island donated and contributed to the efforts.
The same resident explained that Virgin Gorda was not offered much by the local Government: “I do the inventory and I can tell you who the donors are. The donors are not the BVI Government. The donors are our neighbours, our friends and families who reached into their pockets and sent stuff down here – that’s public knowledge,” she explained.
Meanwhile, a prominent Virgin Gorda resident described the difficult task that was endured getting aid to the island. “Those containers that came from Puerto Rico – We got five pallets, out of those containers. I was on Sammy’s barge when they came over and “name withheld” had to fight tooth and nail, almost groveling in the mud where Festival Village is to make sure that we got those five pallets. The instructions were –‘do not send any of those trailers to Virgin Gorda’.”
“We are not disputing what aid came or whatever. The issue is: was the aid distributed evenly? and a lot of the boats from out of Puerto Rico? I came on a boat from Puerto Rico, and I was told as I was able to get a ride they will not stop in Tortola because if they stop in Tortola what was happening is that they were taking the stuff and keeping it in Tortola. …We always get the left over,” the prominent woman disclosed.
She further told the District Representative, that now was not the time for words, but rather action was required: “There was no plan in place to deal with things after and the truth sometimes hurt but we have to be able to hear the truth and take action and we need to stop talking about what we are going to do and do it,” the resident said.