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Press Releases & Statements

Virgin Islands Territorial 
Emergency Management Agency

_______________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release

April 30, 2015

VITEMA Launches its 2015 Hurricane Ready Campaign
on National America’s PrepareAthon! Day of Action

The Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) is launching its Hurricane Ready Campaign during the month of May to encourage the community to take steps now to prepare for the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season. 

“Forecasts are for a below average to average hurricane season but it only takes one major hurricane to devastate our islands,” said Mona Barnes, VITEMA Director-Designee. “We were fortunate in the last few years because we were spared the negative impact of a major storm or hurricane. But let us not become complacent. Continue to prepare and to be aware.”

“Our Hurricane Ready Campaign is about encouraging everyone to begin preparing by putting together an emergency supply kit with items they would need to survive the aftermath of a major storm,” she said. “What essential items would you and your family need if a major storm or hurricane caused an island-wide power outage that lasted more than a day? Do you care for an elderly person or have young children or pets? Have you given careful consideration to their specific needs?”

As part of the Hurricane Ready Campaign, VITEMA is asking the public to make the commitment to preparedness by developing a family disaster plan and building an emergency supply kit in time for National Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 24 – 30. 

“Start today by assessing your needs and make a pledge today to stock up on at least one essential item,” Barnes said. “It could be water, canned goods or personal care products – whatever is doable. Then continue preparing in the weeks ahead.”

Businesses should also be preparing for the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season, Barnes stated. Private sector preparedness is vital to ensuring that storm impact has a minimal effect on the economy.

“It’s important that employees know what to do before, during and after a storm event,” Barnes said. “Every employer should establish a continuity of operations plan that includes contact information, reporting instructions and business operations following a storm event. Businesses that are unprepared before the storm will have a difficult time quickly recovering after the storm.” 

For more information on how to prepare for the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season visit www.VITEMA.gov, www.Ready.gov or www.Listo.gov (Spanish).

As part of the campaign, VITEMA will also engage the community through a number of preparedness presentations as well as offer Hurricane Awareness refresher courses to first responders and emergency managers during the month of May. Throughout the month of May and June, Barnes will also appear on a number of radio talk shows to discuss community preparedness.

VITEMA Director-Designee Mona Barnes meets with FEMA Region II Administrator Jerome Hatfield.

VITEMA has been preparing for the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season year-round through continuous collaboration with local and federal partners and voluntary organizations to ensure efforts to respond and recover are coordinated efficiently and effectively. Recently, Barnes met with FEMA Region II Administrator Jerome Hatfield and FEMA Caribbean Area Division Director Alejandro de La Campa, to discuss federal support for the US Virgin Islands. In June, Barnes is also scheduled to visit FEMA’s Caribbean Distribution Center, which is an 80,000 square-feet facility that receives, ships, and recovers disaster commodities and equipment. The center will provide commodities to the US Virgin Islands in the event of a major disaster.

In upcoming months, VITEMA and the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (PREMA) will participate in a FEMA tabletop exercise to test the federal agency’s activation and mobilization procedures.

America’s PrepareAthon!

VITEMA is a proud supporter of America’s PrepareAthon! and launched its campaign to highlight the movement’s Day of Action, today, April 30th. America’s PrepareAthon! is a national, grassroots campaign for action to increase individual and community preparedness and resilience through hazard-specific drills, group discussions, and exercises for hazards relevant to the area. 

America’s PrepareAthon!’s goal is to increase the number of individuals who understand which disasters could happen in their community, who know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage, who take action to increase their preparedness and participate in community resilience planning.

Visit www.ready.gov/prepare to learn more about America’s PrepareAthon! 

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