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News / Virgin Islands / Weather / June 17, 2019

ST. CROIX – On Friday, during Governor Albert Bryan’s sit-down with the media, Daryl D. Jaschen, director nominee of the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (V.I.T.E.M.A.), gave an update on hurricane preparedness in the Virgin Islands.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year, and a likely range of 9 to 15 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major ones.

“For the Virgin Islands, it only takes one. We are focused on outreach to get the word to the population to prepare and protect themselves. And part of that preparedness includes having a basic emergency supply kit,” relayed Mr. Jaschen. 

Be prepared

Earlier this month The Consortium outlined specific hurricane preparedness advice provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (F.E.M.A.).

Build a Kit. Consider the specific needs of your family, including the elderly and those with access and functional needs, to ensure you have supplies for the first 10 days following a disaster as they may have to shelter in place.

  • Store one gallon of water, for drinking and sanitation, for each person per day.
  • Include non-perishable foods for each person in the household paying particular attention to family members with special diets and allergies.
  • Have hand sanitizer, antibiotic ointment, hygienic products, diapers and wipes available.
  • Include a favorite toy, stuffed animal, books and activities for younger members of the family.
  • Protect your important documents such as vital records, insurance policies, medical information, property and financial records.
  • Make sure to have adequate food and water for your pet. Be sure your pet is wearing a collar with updated identification tags with the pet’s name, owner’s name, address and phone number.

Make a family communications plan. As roads may be impassable and cell phone service may be disrupted, identify alternate ways of staying in touch with loved ones.

  • Choose an out of town friend or relative as a point of contact.
  • Decide on a meeting place in case you cannot return home.
  • Keep important documents and phone numbers with you at all times.
  • Ensure children are included in preparedness conversations and make sure they have emergency contacts memorized or saved in a secure place.

Harden and Protect Your Property. Virgin Islanders should also take steps to protect their homes.

  • Review home insurance policies to ensure proper coverage and take photos of property.
  • Prepare to store anything from your property that could be picked up by hurricane winds and turned into a harmful object.
  • Trim trees to remove dead limbs and secure rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Make sure porches, decks or sheds are sound and firmly attached.
  • Fasten down roofs with hurricane straps or clips and install strong bolts at the top and bottom of exterior doors. Buy or make storm shutters for windows.

Mr. Jaschen stressed that it is important for the V.I. community to come together and develop a plan to work together. “We cannot be in denial; hurricane season is here. Be prepared for the worst and hope for the best,” he said.

Hurricane Shelters

V.I.T.E.M.A. has been working diligently to identify and designate shelters. There are two types of shelters: immediate care, which includes evacuation to protect yourself during a storm and the second type of shelter, called mass-care shelters, which includes facilities provided by nonprofits like the Red Cross and provide mid to longterm care.

The Department of Human Services has announced shelters territory-wide in case of a storm. They include the following:

  • St. Thomas – Department of Human Services Head Start Center, Sugar Estate and Lockhart Elementary School, 41 Estate Thomas
  • St. Croix – Department of Human Services Head Start Center, Mars Hill, Frederiksted and St. Croix Educational Complex, 5A&C VICorp (across from the University of the Virgin Islands)
  • St. John – Calabash Boom Community Center
  • Water Island – Water Island Fire Station.

Difference between a “Watch” and a “Warning”

According to VITEMA, it is important to understand the difference between the National Weather Service’s (N.W.S.) watches and warnings when getting prepared for any dangerous weather hazard, including hurricanes. Both watches and warnings are important, but warnings are more urgent.


A watch lets you know that weather conditions are favorable for a hazard to occur. It literally means “be on guard.” They are issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm-force winds. During the watch, it is crucial to gather awareness of the specific threat and prepare for action. Always monitor the weather to find out if conditions have deteriorated and discuss your protective action plans with your family.


A warning requires immediate action. This means a weather hazard is imminent; it is either occurring or it is about to occur at any moment. A warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm-force winds. During the warning, it is important to take action: grab the emergency kit you have prepared in advance and head to safety immediately. 

V.I.T.E.M.A. Alerts

V.I.T.E.M.A. recently met federal partners, local responders, and hospital officials to discuss what went right and what went wrong during Hurricanes Irma and Maria. “We discussed how we could improve upon last year’s hurricane plan to ensure that it is successfully executed this hurricane season,” Mr. Jaschen said.

“One key factor will be to begin a decision-making process with the governor 96 hours out. This will put the agency in a position to put resources and personnel in place ahead of time to respond in the event of a hurricane, Mr. Jaschen added.

He recommends that the general public signs up for V.I.T.E.M.A. alerts (Alert VI) at to be informed of any weather systems that may impact the territory and remain abreast of any new emergency developments. Alerts are sent by email, text, or landline.

Currently, alerts are updated every six hours. However, if a hurricane watch or warning is issued, and a system is close to land, the alerts will be updated every hour. 

In addition, the agency will canvas neighborhoods utilizing a public announcement (P.A.) system to announce the status and conditions of the environment regarding hurricane threats. 

The hurricane season officially began on June 1 and extends to November 30.

Shenneth Canegata

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Watch | Euphoria Overtakes C.A.H.S. 2019 Graduates At Commencement Ceremony

June 17, 2019