At the start of Hurricane Preparedness Week, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) are reminding residents in the Atlantic hurricane belt to review their plans, stay vigilant and be informed. These words of advice come as FEMA, the VITEMA and their affiliates in the U.S. Virgin Islands are getting ready to test their hurricane readiness and response capabilities. The testing will consist of response exercises during the Spring and Summer months.
Residents Must Stay Vigilant and Be Informed
Mark A. Walters, Coordinator of the Virgin Islands Caribbean Area Office, explained that his office focuses on year-round preparations for storms. Ans, as a result, they are ready for the upcoming hurricane season. He also asked residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands to stay vigilant and prepare themselves, their families, communities, and businesses because it “only takes one storm to cause a disaster.” Additionally, Mr. Walters explained that FEMA will support the islands if they request federal assistance for “preparedness and response.”
These sentiments are similar to those by Daryl Jaschen, Director of VITEMA. He said that VITEMA builds and sustains valuable partnerships with agencies and the private sector. These partnerships allow for assessments and mitigation of hazards and enhanced preparedness, which will ensure that the islands can recover from disasters. He reiterated that “emergency management is a shared responsibility” and people and communities must work together.
How Residents in the US Virgin Islands Can Prepare For Disasters
Residents in the U.S. Virgin Islands can take steps to prepare for disaster. There is still time to:
- Create a hurricane plan, and make sure the household understands it.
- Identify the special needs and requirements for seniors and differently able family members. If they are over age 60, sign them up for the V.I. Department of Human Services’ Elder, Dependent Adult, and Disabled Persons Disaster Registry
- Sign up for Alert VI to receive emergency notifications and download the FEMA app to receive current alerts.
- Protect your home from tropical storms by clearing drains and gutters and installing hurricane shutters.
- Get familiar with evacuation routes and practice with your family
- Check your insurance policies and personal documents and ensure that they are up to date and stored digitally
- Collect enough supplies for your household and pets
In fact, many of these tips apply to anyone who lives in the Atlantic hurricane belt. For more information about how to prepare for tropical storms and hurricanes, visit Ready.gov, Weather.gov, and the VITEMA websites.