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V.I. Department of Human Services Announces Shelter Plans for the 2019 Hurricane Season

May 23, 2019

St. Croix, VI – The Government of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) remains committed to ensuring the safety of its residents and visitors during the upcoming 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. To effect this, under the Emergency Services Function #6 (ESF) involves Mass Care - Shelter Management, led by the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services. The main aim of identifying such facilities is to provide safe, temporary accommodation for a significant number of residents and visitors, who may feel threatened due to an approaching weather system, or may have been displaced/homeless subsequent to a disastrous event. The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services, in collaboration with the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) and Department of Health, provides the following information.

As residents prepare their homes and families for 2019 Atlantic hurricane season which begins June 1 and ends November 30, now is the time to communicate plans to shelter in place with family and friends. We realize that not everyone has a safe location to shelter in place. Individuals whose residences are known or questionable (unsafe or compromised), the Department of Human Services will open two (2) shelters on the island of St. Croix, two (2) shelters on the island of St. Thomas, one (1) shelter on the island of St. John, and one (1) shelter on the island of Water Island. Additionally, the Virgin Islands Department of Health will open Special Needs Shelters on the islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. A Special Needs Shelter is for residents who, during periods of evacuation or emergency, requires sheltering assistance, due to physical impairment, mental impairment, cognitive impairment or sensory disabilities.

Depending on the threat to the territory, shelters are anticipated to open approximately 48-hours prior to landfall. Landfall is the time where sustained hurricane force winds (greater than 45 miles per hour) reaches the island(s). Once hurricane force winds reach the territory, do not attempt to leave your home and travel to a shelter. It is unsafe to travel then, and you place your life and that of any first responders at risk.

Notification of shelter openings will be announced on radio stations, newspapers, governmental websites, social media, and Alert VI. To sign-up for Alert VI, access this page and choose which method of notification you desire – text, phone, email, or all three. Additionally, Non-Profit Organizations will receive direct notification of shelter openings in order to assist in transportation of individuals.

Support for shelter management will be accomplished through inter-agency coordination with Department of Education, Department of Human Services, Department of Health, The American Red Cross, and Virgin Islands Police Department. However, it is equally important that those who need shelter cooperate with these coordinating entities to ensure a smooth and comfortable operation.

To assist with your individual and family disaster preparedness, we encourage you to plan to attend the Disaster Preparedness EXPO 2019, sponsored by the Department of Health. On St. Croix, the EXPO is scheduled for June 22 from 11 am – 4 pm at the DC Canegata Recreation Center. On St. Thomas, the EXPO is scheduled for June 29 from 12 pm – 5 pm at the Tutu Park Mall Center Court.