Premier's Office
Release Date:
Thursday, 7 September 2023 - 5:02pm









Recovery Efforts in the Virgin Islands

Madam Speaker, yesterday marked the sixth anniversary of the passage of Hurricane Irma through the Virgin Islands. While it is a day that we would all like to forget because of the devastation that it wreaked through these Virgin Islands, we must pause to thank God for how far He has brought the Territory since those dark and gloomy days in our Territory’s history.

The loss and damage were great. It is reported that over 80 percent of the housing stock was either destroyed or damaged. Most of our public infrastructure, from buildings to electricity poles, to the Government administration buildings, ferry docks, community centres, roads, schools – you name it, were either badly damaged or destroyed. It would be an easier task to say what was not damaged in the direct hit that touched all our islands.

The total estimated damage was between $3.5 to $4 billion, and it is said that our development was set back by some 20 years. Many wondered whether we would recover, but today I would like to pause and reflect on the tremendous progress that we have made since that time.

Madam Speaker, it was in April 2018 that the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) was formed as a dedicated agency, working for the Government of the Virgin Islands, to focus on the rehabilitation of our Territory’s public infrastructure. Since then, the RDA has completed some 41 activities across 25 distinct projects within 12 subsectors and 5 sectors. The sectors include:

  1. Resilient Infrastructure;
  2. Good Governance;
  3. Nurtured and Sustainable Environment;
  4. Cohesive and Empowered Society; and
  5. Vibrant and Innovative Economy;

A total of 12 subsectors were impacted following Hurricane Irma, Madam Speaker, namely: Roads; Seaports; Water and Sewerage; Model Good Governance; Security and Safety for All; Environmental Protection; Renewable Energy; Education; Housing; Recreation; Waste and Debris Management; and Tourism.

From inception in 2018 to August 2023, Madam Speaker, the RDA has delivered $47.76 million worth of projects, raised $4.27 million to supplement Government funding, trained 156 distinct contractors to improve local capacity to bid on and deliver projects, and engaged 23 interns across various fields including project management, communications, procurement and environmental management.

Madam Speaker, active projects include the Jost Van Dyke Primary School, a multi-purpose educational facility and the Joint Marine Shore Base. Upcoming projects for commencement include the new West End Ferry Terminal and the Eslyn Henley Richiez Learning Centre.

The list of completed project activities by subsectors are as follow:


  1. Great Mountain I
  2. Great Mountain II
  3. Hope to Sabbath
  4. Little Dix Hill
  5. Bob’s Gas Station
  6. Ballast Bay
  7. Long Trench
  8. Fish Bay
  9. Asphaltic Works


  1.  Sea Markers

Water and Sewerage:

  1.  Long Bush Reservoirs & Metering
  2.  Carrot Bay Reservoirs & Metering
  3.  Zion Hill Reservoirs & Metering

Model Good Governance:

  1.  Virgin Gorda Administration Buildings – Cleaning
  2.  John C. George Sr. MBE Administration Building (North Sound)
  3.  Flax Administration Building
  4.  Vanterpool Administration Building
  5.  Theodolph Faulkner Administration Building
  6.  Albert Chinnery Administration Building

Security and Safety for All:

  1.  Road Town Police Station
  2.  Virgin Gorda Police Barracks
  3.  Estate House #1
  4.  Virgin Gorda Police Station

Environmental Protection:

  1.  Marine Survey

Renewable Energy:

  1.  Leonora Delville Primary School
  2.  Ivan Dawson Primary School
  3.  Jost Van Dyke Clinic
  4.  Enis Adams Primary School
  5.  Francis Lettsome Primary School


  1.  Redevelopment of Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS)
  2.  Bregado Flax Educational Centre
  3.  ESHS Demolition
  4.  ESHS Temporary Classrooms
  5.  Bregado Flax Educational Centre (Junior School) Internal Walls


  1.  Housing Repairs
  2.  Temporary Housing


  1.  Anthonie Jeffery Caines Sports Arena
  2.  Anegada Recreation Facility

Waste and Debris Management:

  1.  Special Debris Clearance
  2.  Incinerator Dismantling


  1.  Virgin Gorda Baths

Madam Speaker, funding to date has come principally from the Government of the Virgin Islands, but also from the UK Government and various private donors and non-governmental organisations. While this funding has enabled achievements for the people of the Territory, it is clear that the funding requirement to meet our prevailing development needs as a Territory has significantly outpaced the contributions.

Madam Speaker, despite all of the progress that has been made, we still have a long way to go. To continue to deliver results, and to meet our Territory’s substantial development challenges, of which we are all acutely aware, funding is a necessity, and the Government continues to explore our various options for raising this funding.

Madam Speaker, Irma was the strongest hurricane recorded in this part of the Atlantic in recent history, with wind speeds that were off the charts. The memories and trauma are still with all of us who experienced it.

We lost four members of our community in the storm and quite a few more in the months after. We remember them and we pray for their souls.

The weeks and months after the storm were very difficult. People had no shelter to keep their families dry and warm. Electricity, potable water, food and other amenities were a challenge. Persons became unemployed because the tourism industry, which is the main economic driver and which generates most of the jobs on our islands, could not operate.

But Madam Speaker, amidst the tragedy, one of the things that shone through was the resilience and compassion of our people and of our beautiful community. Persons helped one another, whether by offering shelter to their neighbours or sharing what little food and supplies they had. Our people came together and bit by bit they began the task of cleaning up and rebuilding our territory. This is how we live as Virgin Islanders.

Madam Speaker, God has blessed us with an amazing tourism product that was able to quickly rebound. With intensified efforts since 2019, we have seen strong recovery of our tourism industry. This has translated into a healthy recovery of our economy, which was able to fare very well with the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, and contributed immensely to us being able to achieve a lot of the work of which I have spoken.

It is important to note that this work is not being approached solely on the basis of recovery but also in the context of development. This means that we are working not just to restore and replace infrastructure, but to rebuild stronger and with the needs of the future in mind.

Among the private sector, many of the properties that were either damaged or destroyed have been rebuilt or restored, and are once again open and welcoming visitors. Other property owners are progressing with their repairs.

We have seen high confidence from our international tourism partners such as the travel agencies, charter companies, cruise lines and airlines, as well as our local partners.

All of these things stand as testimony to the determination and capabilities of our people.

We have come very far in six years. All Virgin Islands people should feel proud of what we have accomplished in this short time, mostly with our own resources and our indomitable spirit.

As we observe the sixth anniversary of the passage of Hurricane Irma, we glance back at the past, Madam Speaker, but we look forward with hope, determination and confidence – confidence in our people and our country.

Madam Speaker, I take the opportunity to thank every single individual and organization that assisted with recovery efforts.  That list includes our public officers, statutory boards, voluntary and charitable organizations, generous patrons, private businesses, overseas partners, the United Kingdom Government, and private, civic-minded residents and citizens.  Your contributions are valued, and we call on you to continue your efforts to our full recovery.

May God continue to bless and protect our beautiful Virgin Islands and all her people.

I thank you.