The day highlights the tragic and profound impact of drowning on families and communities and offers life-saving solutions. This warning is amplified further during the Hurricane Season. We have heard countless stories of persons in our coastal villages such as Brewers Bay, Cane Garden Bay, and Carrot Bay speak of the level of seawater in their homes and their adventure while making their way safely to high ground. These were, for sure, experiences they did not want to repeat.
There are several important factors to take into consideration when a hurricane warning is given, and impact is imminent. It is clearly understood that the impact on coastal areas brings several serious hazards. These hazards include heavy rains, high winds, storm surges, and even tornadoes. Storm surges push the seawater from several yards to several hundred feet on shore, and potentially up ghuts and streams. In turn, this can cause flooding to homes, and increase the risk of drowning people and livestock.
People in low-lying and flood-prone areas must be ready to evacuate ahead of the storm. They should know where shelters outside of the flood zones are or plan to stay with family members and/or friends. Sadly, even when a call for evacuation to higher ground is given, some people still do not see this displacement as a realistic option. Living through the experiences of Irma, it is strongly encouraged that people ride out the storms elsewhere, either in the designated hurricane shelters or with family members or friends.
The BVI Government, understanding the degree to which storm surges are worsening, has taken on board this challenge by upgrading the infrastructure, as well as building natural barriers to try to mitigate the short-term impact of these surges. The Carrot Bay Revetment Project, for example, include gravity walls, turbidity barriers, and rock armor revetment due to their vulnerability after Hurricane Irma and Maria.
It is still important, however, that citizens heed the official warnings issued. The following steps are advised:
Swimming in flooding and storm surge events often results in tragedy.
For our sea-faring friends, it is recommended that you get off the boat if a storm is on the way—never remain on a boat during a hurricane! Do not try to outrun the storm/hurricane. It is extremely dangerous as hurricane winds can exceed 100 mph and tornadoes are often associated with these storms. If you’re on board during a bad storm, you are risking your life. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare, take precautions, and keep yourself safe. Check the mooring lines of boats in the water and dry dock if possible.
For boat owners