The majority of the territory’s infrastructure has been restored by the hands of local contractors following the devastation suffered by the territory during the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Premier Dr. the Honourable Natalio Wheatley reflected on the territory’s recovery process as he reminded residents of the resilience of the people on the 5th anniversary of the passage of Hurricane Irma in 2017.
He said, “With our limited resources, some help from neighbours and friends, and our strength that comes from our Faith in our God, we cleaned up the debris, restored vital infrastructure, and started rebuilding our homes and our lives.”
“We have continued the recovery process over the past five years, despite the interruption of COVID, by delivering recovery projects financed by the CDB Recovery and Rehabilitation loan and our own financial resources,” he added.
Many were completed by VI contractors
Premier Wheatley also highlighted the efforts of the local contractors who aided in the rebuilding of the territory’s infrastructure, thanks to a policy that came into force within the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA), under the Virgin Islands Party Administration.
“I am very pleased that many of these recovery projects have been completed by Virgin Islands contractors who have done an outstanding job. With the support of the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) under the leadership of Mr. Anthony McMaster, major roads such as Ballast Bay, Great Mountain and Little Dix Hill have been restored”, he said.
“We have also rebuilt Government Administration buildings on Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost van Dyke. Work on the Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex is ongoing, well managed and near completion. We have also restored several schools. The Elmore Stoutt High School Redevelopment Project is almost complete. And other school projects are at different stages of implementation. We have ensured that the needs of our future generations are secured. We have also repaired and upgraded recreation and community facilities.”, he further explained.
Premier Wheatley also thanked all the donors who contributed to the rebuilding of the territory, especially in the education sector.
“More support for rebuilding and fixing schools has been announced for which we are grateful. Our resilience and determination as a society have turned the misfortunes from Irma into opportunities for building greater resilience as a society”, he said.
Governor commends recovery process
Meanwhile, Governor His Excellency John Rankin commended the territory for the level of recovery achieved in such a short space of time.
He said, “Recovering from that historic storm would have been challenging in any jurisdiction, but for an island nation with a comparatively small population, to have arrived where we are today is truly commendable. At the same time, I am keenly aware that there is still work to do to recover from Hurricane Irma, some people are still suffering from the trauma of the storm, and some are still rebuilding homes and livelihoods.”
Governor Rankin urged the territory to always remain prepared in the event another hurricane strikes, adding that he believes the BVI is better prepared than prior, thanks to years of work carried out by residents.
“For the last 20 years, the Department of Disaster Management has coordinated government’s comprehensive approach to potential disasters. This shift to incorporating planning, preparedness and mitigation well before any potential threat – as opposed to the old way of simply responding to events after the fact – has quietly safeguarded the BVI by preventing the vast majority of floods, storms and other hazards that have occurred, from overwhelming our local capacity to respond”, he said.