The hurricane season of 2017 was the most disastrous season on record for the Virgin Islands and other Caribbean nations. In St. Thomas the devastation from both Hurricane Irma and Maria has taken its toll on the residents. A advisory panel was created to address both the short term and long term needs of the residents. The panel formally named as the VI Hurricane and Resiliency Advisory Group features business and community leaders that have a good understanding of their fellow citizens’ needs.
The First Steps
Assessing the damage caused by the hurricanes is an obvious first step. Homeowners and business owners will need to file claims with their insurance companies for storm related damage. The panel will be charged to gather this information to assess risk factors and long-term solutions.
Coordinating Recovery efforts
The panel appointed to help with the hurricane relief efforts will need to be able to implement necessary recovery efforts. Plans on the economic infrastructure and its impact on the economy need to be discussed. This includes a solid and easily accessible go-to point where all agencies can come together so there is no wasted efforts in the recovery process.
All funding efforts need to be tracked so monies are used efficiently in the proper manner. A centralized funding source is preferred but coordinated efforts to distribute money where needed will help. The panel will need to address issues that arise from funding sources and monitor their distribution.
Establishing A Resiliency Plan For The Future
The main purpose of an advisory panel is to analyze the current situation and make recommendations for the future. The ultimate goal for the group is to create guidelines and procedures that will enhance the island’s infrastructure to withstand future storms. It is important that any resiliency plan takes into account climate changes. Members of the panel include the likes of Hans Lawaetz, Basil Ottley, Daryl Griffith and Andrew Farkas, among others.
Newer technological advances in infrastructure will need to be considered when planning out long-term sustainability practices. The Virgin Islands have a unique opportunity to utilize these advances to enhance their infrastructure without sacrificing their unique heritage.
The Caribbean islands do offer a unique challenge because of their economic volatility. St. Thomas and the neighboring Caribbean islands rely on tourism to grow their economy. The recent devastation may take years to recover from, so there has to be alternate means to gain revenue. This panel should help address the economic needs of their citizens.