U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. urged residents to stay vigilant and prepare for the weather system heading toward the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico that is expected to become a tropical storm at some point on Wednesday.
“I know that this is an incredibly stressful time for our residents, as we are also trying to protect ourselves against the spread of the Coronavirus, but we must not let our guard down on this front,” Governor Bryan said. “We have seen what can happen, and we also know what we can do when we prepare and when we come together.”
VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen, who also was at the press conference, along with Human Services Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez, said his agency is not issuing sandbags because of the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sand and sand bags will not be issued for this storm so as not to have gatherings of individuals,” Director Jaschen said. “There is not time to prepare adequate mitigation measures for this storm.”
The Director also said that curfew passes are made by appointment only and there is a 10-day processing period.
“If a curfew goes into effect, unless you are directly involved in emergency response or providing life-saving functions, stay off the road,” Director Jaschen said.
Commissioner Causey-Gomez also cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for her decision not to open shelters for this weather event.
“While this could pose a problem for certain residents with existing roof and flooding problems, in order to limit the spread of Coronavirus and promote health and safety for our islands, the Government of the Virgin Islands will not open congregate shelters at this time,” she said.
The Governor also said he has submitted a request for a federal disaster declaration in advance of the approaching storm system.
“While we are hoping for the best, we are preparing for the worst,” Governor Bryan said. “We have seen in the past how unpredictable these weather systems are and know better than to trust the safety of our community to the whims of these storms.”
The Governor also asked residents to take an active part in keeping the community, and their loved ones, safe.
“If you have not already, please sign up for Alerts VI by visiting vitema.vi.gov,” Governor Bryan said. “Build a kit. Formulate a plan. Check on your neighbors, family and friends and ensure that they have a plan.”