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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 13, 2024


There are so many light-hearted things to think about at this time of year – school's out, summer's here and the Emancipation Day / Independence Day holidays are approaching, with the St. John Festival in full swing.
But it's also hurricane season in the Virgin Islands, and the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency wants the public to give some serious thought to getting ready to face whatever comes this way.
On Wednesday night at the Cruz Bay Legislature Building, officials of VITEMA, the Lieutenant Governor's Office and the University of the Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center held the second in a series of disaster preparedness forums. According to Alvis Christian, VITEMA's deputy director for St. John, about 75 residents attended the first two forums, on St. Thomas and St. John, with a third scheduled for Thursday night on St. Croix.
"It's pretty good, given how close it is to festival," he said of the St. John/St. Thomas turn-out.
Representatives of the Division of Banking and Insurance, SBDC and the Planning and Natural Resources and Human Services Departments made presentations for the benefit of business owners. They went down a series of mental checklists of steps to take in getting ready for approaching storms and others to use in assessing their status in the event of a hurricane or earthquake.
Christian noted that the expertise available at the forum would not as readily be available in the aftermath of disaster because the same people would be occupied in relief efforts. "We give people a chance to meet them before, because what they do is give you broad information so you would know what to look for," he said.
Among the topics covered during the two-hour seminars were these recommendations of action to be taken long before the first tropical storm of the season approaches:
– Communications and other computer-based businesses should back up their hard drives and keep copies in a location other than their place of business. In the case of computers using modems, not only the computer equipment but also telephone systems should be equipped with surge protectors. That's because a power surge through a phone line can damage a computer through its modem.
– Business owners should take a photographic inventory of all their equipment, furnishings and other office or shop contents, and homeowners should do the same of their household effects. The photos should be wrapped in plastic or put in a waterproof container and stored in a secure location in case they are needed to back up insurance claims.
– Property owners should check with their insurance agent to see about discounts for buildings with properly set overhangs on the roof and shutters installed at the windows.
– Property owners should be aware that if a building was not noticeably damaged in the major storms of the last 11 years (since Hugo in 1989), the chances are good that the structure has been weakened. It would be wise to have a contractor inspect the building, and then to make any needed reinforcements.
– Business owners who do not already have business interruption insurance should consider acquiring it. The policies provide financial relief during periods of business loss or slowdown that result from natural disasters.
– Everyone should consider buying a generator. Virgin Islanders used to think of generators as optional investments, but after the passage of Hurricanes Hugo, Marilyn, Bertha, Georges and Lenny, presenters said, a generator may be thought of as a necessity, like a refrigerator or a stove.

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