Five persons were killed and the monster hurricane left a trail of destruction in its path like never seen before in the British Overseas Territory.
The Category 5 Hurricane came in a matter of weeks after major flooding caused damage in parts of the Territory. Two weeks after Hurricne Irma, another catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane, Maria, affected the VI.
The resilience of the people of the Virgin Islands came to the forefront; however, and the Territory, despite no significant financial help from the United Kingdom, began to rebuild.
According to Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1), in a statement on the anniversary of Hurricane Irma, the three consecutive catastrophic events—one flood and two hurricanes—remind of three important attributes that remain prevalent three years later: “One (1), God is with us! Two (2), we are stronger together! And, three (3) the future belongs to the prepared.
“When we say that God is with us, we remember that immediately after Hurricane Irma, after we saw with our naked eyes the devastation and despair. This reality challenged our Faith to keep trusting in God that better days were ahead.”
Hon Fahie said the economy was clearly devastated, with losses that were estimated by some to be as high as $3 billion and many homes, jobs, personal possessions, and hope were gone in the blink of an eye with the wind.
“We all would vividly remember that these events were very traumatising for us as a people. Even to date some of these fears remain. Also etched in our mind forever, the many long hot days and nights after spent in the ‘pitch dark’ that tested our Faith and our resolve to dream of a better day.
“But in contrast, during this difficult moment in time, the same events that shook our Faith strengthened our resolve.”
Fast-forward to three years later, Premier Fahie said many in the Territory are still struggling to get back to where they were before those 2017 catastrophic events. “Sometimes the burden can be so overpowering that it is difficult to see and appreciate the positives.”
He said when the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Government took office in February 2019, it made critical decisions in the best interest of the people of the Virgin Islands, and the picture was beginning to look much better.
The Elmore Stoutt High School L–shaped building and other school buildings, he said, were finally repaired, thereby allowing teachers, children, and support staff to return to school to learn in proper educational facilities.
“Construction was back on track. Tourism began to make great strides. An increasing number of cruise ships were returning to our shores, and new cruise lines called to our port. Innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives were beginning to take root. Regional relationships were re-established. Our infrastructure was taking shape. Our economy was on the rebound. Our Caribbean brothers and sisters, among others, who made the BVI their home for many, many years were finally regularised, and investors’ confidence in the Territory was moving forward.”
In early 2020; however, the Territory was faced with yet another setback, which was and still is COVID-19.
“Like the rest of the world, we were forced to readjust our course. But, just as we have pulled together to overcome Irma, so too with patience, effort and unity, we will conquer COVID-19 as well as this current 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season.”
According to the Premier, every challenge that the Territory has been through, and is going through, is really God’s test to prepare it for what it is going to.
“What are we going to you may ask? We are going to prosperity-- to the new BVI, in ‘The New Regular’.”
Hon Fahie said it is important to note; however, that the future belongs to the prepared. So, we must remain a prepared people. We must increase our Faith in God. We must hold each other accountable. We must believe in each other. We must not let the efforts of our forefathers go in vain.”
And in this 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season, three years after Irma, Premier Fahie has encouraged everyone to continue to remain in a state of readiness.
“In the same vein for COVID-19, let us continue to be responsible by adhering to the health and safety protocols to keep you safe and to keep us all safe.”