Press Release

Department of Disaster Management
Release Date:
Monday, 1 May 2017 - 12:10pm

Residents of the North Sound community in Virgin Gorda will now be alerted of imminent hazard impacts, with the restoration of the North Sound siren.

The siren’s restoration was made possible via contributions by the British Virgin Islands Red Cross (BVIRC).

The siren is an integral part of the Territory’s Early Warning System that is operated and managed by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM). It provides a means through which individuals can be alerted when a hazard impact is imminent and is a critical aspect of disaster risk reduction.

Director of the BVIRC, Mrs. Helen Frett said the organisation’s contribution is part of their mandate under the agency’s disaster risk reduction programme, to reduce vulnerability at the community level.

She stated, “We remain committed to working with communities across the Territory to implement initiatives and measures that will reduce hazard vulnerability. Our involvement in the enhancement of the Early Warning System stems from our community engagement in 2016.”

Mrs. Frett explained, “We consulted with members of the North Sound Community last year and they identified a number of hazards and risk reduction projects they deemed as essential for the community to cope and respond to disaster threats.”

The BVIRC, also as part of its risk reduction programme, funded the installation of a generator at the North Sound Methodist Church to provide backup power supply.

To that end, Mrs. Frett said, “Electricity outages are a common occurrence during and after emergencies and disasters.  The absence of electricity can adversely hamper recovery efforts and can worsen an already fragile situation. The generator at the North Sound Methodist Church will therefore aid the community’s coping mechanisms and recovery efforts in times of crisis.”

DDM Director, Ms. Sharleen DaBreo commended BVIRC’s contributions towards disaster risk reduction in the Territory.

She said, “The BVIRC has been a longstanding partner in disaster risk reduction in the Territory and has always willingly contributed to empowering residents through resilience and capacity building initiatives, and through the provision of infrastructural support at the community level.”

As it relates to the sirens, Ms. DaBreo stated, “The siren network requires a lot of resources to keep it operational and it is absolutely critical that we do so in order to ensure that persons in hazard prone communities can be alerted.  The reality is that the resources are limited and this often delays efforts to rectify problems that sometimes arise with the system.  This is why partnerships with organisations such as the BVIRC are an integral aspect of the Territory’s disaster management programme.”

She added, “The North Sound Methodist Church is one of our primary Emergency Shelters. Having an electricity source for persons who might take refuge there during emergencies is important if we expect them to truly be able to cope during hazard impacts”. 

The DDM continues to reiterate its call for the establishment of more partnerships in its efforts to ensure the Territory is resilient to hazard impacts.

The BVIRC has contributed to other disaster risk reduction and community empowerment actions to include the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training programme among others.