Above: USVI Governor John de Jongh and FEMA Assistant Administrator Damon Penn
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The US Virgin Islands hosted a delegation of officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a briefing this week.
USVI Governor John de Jongh led a team of USVI officials at a Senior Executives Continuity of Operations meeting with the officials.
The briefing was the product of planning between FEMA and the Virgin Islands’ emergency management agency; the aim was to ensure that, in situations of man-made or natural disasters, basic services such as law and order and health care could be provided to the territory’s 100,000 residents.
“Recognizing the need to implement a level of continuity of operations, we have taken some initial steps but there is much more to be done,” he said. “The Virgin Islands, made up of four stand-alone islands, finds itself in a unique position. Our options are limited due to the size of the island’s land mass,”
According to the Governor, in 2010, the USVi received FEMA help in beginning a process to reform the territory’s emergency management apparatus.
“We reformed VITEMA and brought it to cabinet-level status,” he said. “We developed new headquarters on St Thomas and with various levels of redundancy, which I should not disclose publicly, for obvious reasons.”
De Jongh said the FEMA officials brought a “level of expertise to the table today to assist the territory in taking the next steps towards developing the continuity of operations plan for the Virgin Islands government and the private sector.”
The briefing, which was held in St Thomas, was first planned after a conversation between VITEMA Director Elton Lewis and the Governor.