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Hurricane Season

Pre-registration for Evacuation Shelters Resumes Amidst Peak Hurricane Season 2023



In light of the intense 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, the Government House press conference this Monday was centered on equipping the residents of the Virgin Islands with critical information. The primary aim was to guide the public on effective preparations and safety measures against storms and other potential natural disasters.

Top officials from various departments, including VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen, Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion, and Human Services Commissioner Kimberly Causey-Gomez, shed light on important updates relevant to their domains.

Ms. Causey-Gomez made a significant announcement about the reopening of the pre-registration process for evacuation shelters throughout the week. Emphasizing the importance, she stated, “Reinitiating this procedure allows us to anticipate and streamline shelter arrangements for those in need.” For those uncertain about the safety of their home during any disaster, she pointed out two avenues for registering: a direct call to (340) 715-6935 between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or via their online portal at

Commissioner Encarnacion provided clarity about the role of her department during emergencies. Specifically, the Health Department’s objective is to set up special shelters catering to individuals with specific medical needs. This encompasses those with chronic conditions needing daily assistance and those relying on regular medical oversight, such as consistent medication dosages. She further elaborated that any immediate medical crises should be addressed by dialing 911 or reaching out to local medical facilities.

Encarnacion also had a pertinent suggestion for residents while assembling emergency medical supplies: to liaise with their healthcare providers. Stressing collaboration, she said, “Collaborating with your healthcare professionals might introduce you to essential provisions you might overlook.” For medicines requiring a cold storage, she advocated the use of coolers and chemical ice packs.

In the same vein of preparedness, VITEMA Director Jaschen offered insights on the changing infrastructure. He specifically cautioned against attempting to cut the new composite poles from the Water and Power Authority (WAPA) that might have been toppled during storms, emphasizing the difference from the traditional wooden poles. He added that it’s crucial to notify WAPA about any downed poles. Additionally, he mentioned that many first-aid items, particularly creams and ointments, have a shelf life of 1-2 years, suggesting timely kit renewals.

Turning his attention to the ongoing weather patterns, Jaschen briefed on the expectations from Tropical Storm Franklin passing to the west and post-tropical storm Gert over the Atlantic. While neither poses a direct threat to the Virgin Islands, he didn’t undermine the potential dangers. Jaschen explained, “There’s a likelihood of rain bands causing flash floods, rising river levels, and even triggering mudslides in steeper regions.” He didn’t neglect to mention the concerns related to gusty winds and sea swells, especially critical for smaller boats in the local waters. He concluded with an advisory for residents to secure outdoor belongings susceptible to strong winds, citing potential gusts up to 40 mph.

In these testing times, the overarching message was clear: being informed, prepared, and cautious can make all the difference.

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Hurricane Season

FEMA Urges Virgin Islands Residents to Update Emergency Plans as Hurricane Season Begins



As the Atlantic hurricane season commences, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging U.S. Virgin Islands residents to brace for what is expected to be an above-normal season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted between 17 and 25 named storms for 2024, underscoring the importance of readiness in the region.

FEMA is stressing the necessity of updating emergency communication plans to enhance safety and reduce the stress associated with approaching tropical systems. It is crucial for residents to revisit and revise their plans, ensuring all family members are well-versed in the procedures to follow if a storm threatens the area.

FEMA’s key recommendations include:

  1. Plan Review and Update: Families should reassess their emergency plans, taking into account any changes over the past year. It’s essential that every member understands their role and the actions to take during an emergency.
  2. Communication Strategy: Designate a family member outside the territory as an emergency contact. This person can serve as a central point of communication for relatives and friends if local channels are disrupted.
  3. Accessible Information: FEMA provides an emergency communications plan template to document vital contact and medical information for each family member. This template is also available in Spanish, making it more accessible to a broader audience.

In addition to updating plans, FEMA advises residents to conduct practice drills. These drills help ensure that everyone knows how to communicate effectively and reunite if separated during a storm.

For more details and to access the emergency communications plan template, residents can visit FEMA’s website or contact the local emergency management office. Being prepared can significantly reduce the risks and anxiety associated with hurricane season in the Caribbean.

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Hurricane Season

Emergency Shelters Identified and Shelf-Stable Foods Procured as USVI Prepares for the Hurricane Season



As the Virgin Islands government advances billion-dollar hurricane recovery projects initiated in 2017, residents brace for an above-normal 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, with forecasts predicting four to seven major hurricanes. Senator Kenneth Gittens convened a meeting on Wednesday with the Committee on Homeland Security, Justice, and Public Affairs to review preparedness plans. Daryl Jaschen, director of the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA), emphasized the importance of proactive planning.

Reflecting on the 2017 hurricanes, Jaschen lamented past complacency among residents and urged serious preparation for the upcoming season. He highlighted the necessity of considering senior citizens, ensuring medication availability, and caring for pets. “We don’t want it, but we want to be prepared,” he stated.

A significant improvement in this year’s preparations is the prepositioning of FEMA-supplied shelf-stable water and meals, sufficient for ten days, within the territory. Unlike in 2017, when supplies were stored in Puerto Rico, these resources are now readily available. If necessary, food supplies will be distributed from various points of distribution (PODs) five days after a federal disaster declaration. Residents are advised to maintain a personal emergency stash for at least five days, as immediate distribution may not be possible.

VITEMA plans to operate two PODs per district, each capable of distributing up to 5,000 meals daily. These PODs will function until normal food supply chains are restored and ATMs are operational. Distribution sites will provide two meals and three liters of water per person per day.

The five-day lead time for distribution stems from the logistics of receiving and processing FEMA supplies. Jaschen warned residents not to expect immediate assistance post-storm, as it takes time to activate PODs. Road clearance is also a prerequisite for POD operations.

The exact locations for the PODs remain undecided, causing concern among legislators. Senator Gittens emphasized the need for pre-identified locations to facilitate easier access during emergencies. Jaschen responded that the final POD sites would be determined based on post-storm assessments.

The V.I. Department of Human Services (DHS) is also preparing for potential hurricane impacts. Community Affairs Coordinator Yvette Henry reported that DHS, with FEMA, the American Red Cross, and local partners, has inspected and identified several evacuation shelters. In St. Croix, the St. Croix Educational Complex and the David C. Canageta Recreational Complex are designated shelters. St. Thomas shelters include the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School’s gym and cafeteria and the Lockhart Elementary and Junior High School. St. John shelters are the Adrian Senior Center and the Gift Hill School. There is no listed shelter for Water Island for 2024.

DHS, along with the V.I. Department of Health, is ensuring shelters can meet the needs of vulnerable populations, including accommodations for service animals. DHS continues to identify additional shelters, with lawmakers urging the selection of easily accessible locations for all residents.

The V.I. Department of Public Works (DPW) is focused on stormwater management, tree pruning, sandbag distribution, route clearance, and infrastructure restoration. Assistant Labor Commissioner Rueben Jennings noted DPW’s readiness to assist in supply distribution if required. Lawmakers stressed the importance of drain maintenance to prevent flooding and debris blockage. DPW has begun assessing the stormwater drainage system and will continue these efforts throughout the hurricane season.

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Hurricane Season

DLCA Urges Price List Submissions Ahead of 2024 Hurricane Season



As the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season commences, the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) is urging businesses in the U.S. Virgin Islands to submit their hurricane price lists by June 1. This measure aims to protect consumers from price gouging during emergencies and ensure essential supplies remain affordable and accessible.

DLCA Commissioner Nathalie Hodge underscored the significance of these submissions, which are required monthly until the season concludes on November 30. The regulation affects retailers, wholesalers, and providers of vital services such as food, water, medical products, and construction services. The initiative focuses on items critical for hurricane preparation and recovery.

Non-compliance with these regulations can result in fines up to $200 per item or service sold in violation of the law. Businesses can access a sample price list form on the DLCA website and submit their lists via email to [email protected].

This call for price list submissions follows a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast predicting an 85% chance of above-normal hurricane activity this year. The Climate Prediction Center anticipates 17 to 25 named storms, with 8 to 13 likely to become hurricanes, including 4 to 7 major hurricanes.

The heightened hurricane activity is linked to near-record warm ocean temperatures, La Niña conditions, and reduced wind shear, all of which contribute to a favorable environment for storm development. Additionally, a robust West African monsoon may enhance the strength and sustainability of storms crossing the Atlantic.

NOAA is enhancing its forecasting and communication capabilities to better serve the public during hurricane threats. New technologies and updated operational strategies will be employed, including expanded Spanish language advisories, an experimental inland storm threat graphic, and advanced data collection tools like Saildrones.

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