BVI Irma Relief Update - September 12, 2017 - 2:00 PM

This morning we were able to make direct contact with our sources at the BVIDDM and BVI Government. We hope the following is able to add some clarity and clear misinformation circulating. 

The BVI Government and other disaster management teams greatly appreciate the outpouring of assistance from persons near and far. This is critical to rebuilding the nation and returning a sense of normalcy. From the outside, it is difficult to understand the immense level of infrastructure damage that Hurricane Irma caused. Tasks such as activating distribution centers are extremely challenging, when most buildings are severely damaged and security personnel to maintain order are limited.  

Communication between to the outside world and within the territory is limited, but rebuilding at an encouraging pace.  To make progress they need all involved to stay focused, and exercise patience as we work to overcome the challenges. Here is what we know:     

BVI Airport (Tortola) - Satellite Phone #881651477456

  • The runway is clear and transmission tower is running on limited supplemental power. 
  • The tower is directly managing clearance for all aircraft, including those for emergency aid and evacuation. However, due to limited power, the transmission strength of the antenna only lets them connect properly when planes are about 10 miles from landing. With such a high volume of air traffic and limited communication, for safety there are times when some aircraft are asked to hold or wait temporarily to avoid crashes and further loss of life. 
  • Commercial flights are expected to resume slowly by Thursday or Friday with carriers such as Seabourne Airlines and Island Birds.
  • Landing flights at during the evening is not possible due to lack of electricity to light the runway and surrounding areas.
  • Military security is at this site to maintain safety of persons and goods.
  • For details on contacting all BVI Ports for entry clearance click here

BVI Main Sea Port (Port Purcell) - VHF 16

  • Port Purcell is being used as the main sea entry point for vessels.
  • For details on contacting all BVI Ports for entry clearance click here
  • This port is experiencing similar challenges as outlined for the airport (electricity, light, security, capacity, limited operating hours etc.)
  • Teams are working to urgently to speed up the movement of aid

Distribution of Aid

  • Any rumors that local businesses are selling supplies that arrive as aid are FALSE. 
  • Supermarkets and other BVI businesses normally receive shipments of goods during the early half of each week. Ships that had already left Florida, USA have been holding securely at sea until hurricanes Irma and Jose left, making it safe to enter the BVI. At the moment these ships are carrying goods that businesses already purchased for sale, per normal practice.
  • Convoy of Hope is on the ground flying in aid, helping with logistics and setting up schools as distribution centers in collaboration with BVIDDM on ALL islands. Finding safe sites is difficult as mentioned above, but the process is indeed moving.
  • As early as yesterday (Monday Sept. 11) Althea Scatliffe Primary School in Tortola was able to give aid to lines of people.
  • Hurricane shelters are also stocked with food, water and supplies
  • Port Purcell is also being used as a secure distribution center and some open air locations are functioning as distribution points for communities. However this is limited due to security risks.
  • Trucks are transporting aid to remote areas such as Cane Garden Bay, and smaller boats are forwarding aid to Jost Van Dyke.  Hon. Melvin “Mitch” Turnbull (D2) was seen with British Military loading supplies on to the vessel.
  • Caribbean Flyers Club of Puerto Rico made two flights to Anegada and donated supplies
  • The Virgin Group and other teams are distributing aid on Virgin Gorda.

BVI Banks

  • Cash is now available from bank ATMs on a limited basis during daylight hours.
  • Banco Popular and First Bank ATMs functioning. FCIB ATM expected to come online next.
  • Banco Popular and FCIB IT systems are tested and functioning. Working to resume more service later in the week.
  • ScotiaBank Caribbean relief team is in route to BVI to assist and work on activating the bank

Economy and Financial Services

  • Access to VIRRGIN financial services system is restored. BVI Financial Services Commission and Company Registry are functioning.
  • Trust companies, banks and other services providers are regrouping to restore service. Many companies are serving clients remotely from their headquarters abroad.
  • Small businesses such as P3 Paper Plastic Products and CTL Home Center are open for business and recovering. 
  • BVI House Asia releasing regular statements to keep the industry informed 

Food, Water, Fuel and other supplies

  • Supermarkets have supplies are open in a controlled manner. Food shortage not expected.
  • Bobbys, Rite Way and OneMart Supermarket are open for business
  • OneMart is open regularly from 11AM - 4PM. Hand baskets only to help everyone receive supplies.
  • OneMart and Rite Way accepting cash and credit/debit cards. Bobby’s may be cash only but we are unable to confirm.
  • Shipments of water and other goods arriving this week to replenish supermarkets.
  • Some fuel reserves on hand for electricity will be used for other essential services at until the power plant is back online
  • Gas stations have fuel and are coordinating replenishments. No fuel shortage expected. 

Communication

  • Premier Smith will have a daily briefing to the community moving forward. This will also be aired on ZBVI, ZKING (7PM and 7AM) and WSTA daily.  He will be reporting on actions his government has taken since the passage of Hurricane Irma to get the BVI back to normalcy.
  • Firetrucks are using their loud speakers to share announcements
  • Hon. Mark Vanterpool held a meeting at the Band Stand in Long Bush on Monday. He was also spotted sharing info on a bull horn while people waited in line at Rite Way.
  • ZBVI Radio is reported to be back on air
  • JTV is coming online and helping with interviews of Government officials and residents
  • USVI Radio stations being contacted with updated with news on BVI situation
  • Community meetings are being scheduled to share information
    • Sept 12 - 4PM OneMart Supermarket
    • Sept. 12 - 5PM Lower Estate Basketball Court
    • Sept. 13 - 2PM - Band Stand at Long Bush

Distribution Centers/Shelters that should have supplies*

  • Long Trench Community Centre
  • St. George's Anglican Church - Main Street
  • Francis Lettsome Primary School- East End
  • Claudia Creque Educational Centre - Anegada
  • Church of God of Prophecy - East End
  • Zion Hill Methodist Church - West End
  • Rainbow Home - Lower Estate
  • East End and Long Look Community Centre
  • Jost Van Dyke School
  • Catholic Community Centre - Virgin Gorda
  • North Sound Methodist Church - Virgin Gorda

*Please send us a private message if you are on the ground and can confirm needed changes to this list.

All parties involved are grateful for the support of the international and local community to rebuild the nation and keep us #BVIStrong.

 

- Dalan Vanterpool (@dalanv)

BVI Irma Relief (@BVIIrmaRelief)

BVIIrmaRelief.org