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EVERYONE ON ANEGADA HAD TO BE EVACUATED! British Virgin Islands Still Has About 300 People Living In Emergency Shelters After ‘Irma-Geddon’

ROAD TOWN, Tortola, BVI — The government of the British Virgin Islands was faced with housing about 300 persons in emergency shelters following the devastation left as a result of the passage of Hurricane Irma, followed by the impact of Hurricane Maria two weeks later.

The Department of Disaster Management opened seven shelters to provide safe accommodation for persons forced to leave their homes after Hurricane Irma and added three more for Hurricane Maria.

One hundred and sixty-two persons were evacuated from Anegada prior to the impact of Irma and housed at the New Testament Church of God in Baugher’s Bay.

A total of 18 informal shelters were created after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Over the past months, the number of shelter occupants has fluctuated as several persons have returned to their homes, left the British territory, or taken up residence with family or friends.

As of November 13, 12 facilities remain open, accommodating 82 persons on Tortola mainly at the Multi-Purpose Complex, community centers and churches.

On Virgin Gorda, 61 persons were being accommodated in apartments/villas, houses, community centers, and two churches, while on Jost Van Dyke, 25 persons are living in shelter boxes provided by the Rotary Clubs.

As we approach the 12-week mark since the passage of the hurricanes and the end of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, and given the deactivation of the National Emergency Operations Centre, emergency shelters will be formally closed on November 30.

Persons remaining in communal shelters have been assessed by the Social Development Department in order to identify appropriate housing solutions. Several individuals are able to return to their homes with assistance being provided by government, private businesses and individuals, and Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) while others require alternative accommodations on an interim or long-term basis.

The government and several NPOs will continue to provide financial assistance and social support to these persons and others based on need, in order to aid the transition from emergency shelter accommodation to temporary or permanent housing.

The Ministry of Health and Social Development has prepared a detailed Housing Recovery Policy and Plan which aims to ensure the health, safety and dignity of disaster-affected individuals and households. It provides a comprehensive framework for meeting short, medium and long-term disaster-related housing needs, building on the provisions of the Emergency Shelter Policy.

In addition, efforts are being made to conduct repairs to Community Centers that were used as emergency shelters in order to ensure their availability for future use by the communities they serve. These works will involve repairs to roof and other non-structural elements of these buildings.

The government of the British Virgin Islands wishes to express sincere gratitude to the Rotary Clubs, BVI Red Cross, churches, shelter management teams, local businesses and other partners who provided support to emergency shelters.

The local government also welcomes the opportunity to work with donors, volunteers and NPOs with a avid interest in helping persons to meet their housing needs.

Persons who wish to assist can contact the Ministry of Health and Social Development by telephone at (284) 852-7743 or by email at

ROYAL MESS: Hurricane Irma forced all 160 people living on Anegada in the British Virgin Islands to leave.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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