With the official start of the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially on Tuesday, June 1, the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) reminds the general public that preparedness is everyone’s responsibility. “We cannot emphasize enough that the most resilient communities are those where the citizens consider disaster preparedness a personal responsibility,” said Mark A. Walters, VITEMA director. “We’re urging families to put aside time to discuss and develop an emergency disaster plan, to put together an emergency supply kit and to learn more about how storms can impact where they live.”
According to Walters, in the event of a disaster, families should know how they will communicate with each other and where shelters are located in the event their homes must be evacuated. It is also important that individuals and families creating emergency disaster plans include the elderly or someone who has special needs living in the home. Based on guidance from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and on lessons learned in the territory’s response to major storms and hurricanes, residents should also be prepared enough to be self-sustaining for at least three days.
“In the aftermath of a disaster, assistance may not arrive immediately, and it may take days for water and power to return to normal operations in some areas,” Walters said. “Essential supplies such as water, non-perishable foods, medicines, a first aid kit, batteries, a portable radio and other items should be part of the emergency supply kit.”
VITEMA also encourages business owners to protect their investment by developing emergency plans geared to getting them back to business quickly. Employees are a business’s most valuable asset and should be included in all levels of emergency planning. Emergency plans also should include a viable communications strategy and protection of property and equipment from storm damage.
Everyone should check local news for weather alerts. VITEMA, in coordination with the Office of the Governor, will issue regular weather alerts for floods, storm and hurricane advisories, watches and warnings.
VITEMA is accepting requests for curfew passes for the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season. In the event of a major storm, before impact or during the recovery process, the V.I. government may implement a curfew for the public’s safety. Private sector businesses that require essential staff to travel to and from work, to continue operations or to secure the premises, while a curfew is in effect must obtain curfew passes from VITEMA. VITEMA asks that businesses submit a list of all essential employees for approval as early as possible.
For more information about disaster preparedness or curfew passes, call VITEMA at 774-2244 on St. Thomas, 773-2244 on St. Croix or 776-4494 on St. John.