Emergency Management in the U. S. Virgin Islands: a small Island Territory with a Developing Program Carlos Samuel1 David A. McEntire2 Introduction



Download 126.13 Kb.
Page3/3
Date18.10.2016
Size126.13 Kb.
1   2   3

Response and Recovery - Should the territory be impacted by a natural disaster, formal procedures are in place, which outline the protocols for a disaster declaration. In the wake of a major disaster, the territory’s governor is authorized to declare a state of emergency (for up to 30 days after the initial impact). At this point, officials working at the federal and local level will conduct as assessment of damage throughout the islands and will then submit all findings to FEMA (Kossler, 2009). FEMA will then provide this information to the president’s office for decision

According to Idamis De Jesus (Assistance Program Specialist with FEMA), the President of the United States may declare the territory as a disaster area, which initiates the action of federal assistance (Kossler, 2009). The territory may apply for federal aid once a major disaster declaration is made by the President and the need for financial assistance can be demonstrated (Bea et. al, 2004). As noted by Bea et. al (2004, p. 3), “The declaration activates the disaster plan and response and recovery activities, and authorizes the deployment and use of any forces, supplies, equipment, and facilities (Virgin Islands Code, Title 23, Chapter 12, §1125(c)).” FEMA will begin to provide funding resources and assistance (Kossler, 2009).

Two tiers of disaster declaration exist (depending on the extent of damage encountered by the territory) as aid may be administered to only government agencies for community repair or to individuals homeowners and small businesses (Kossler, 2009). Bea et. al, 2004, p. 4) states:

When financial assistance is essential to meet the needs of individuals or families after the President issues a major disaster declaration, the governor is authorized to accept a grant by the federal government or to enter into an agreement with the federal government to participate in funding. All federal grants and local matching funds are to be deposited in the general disaster relief fund (Virgin Islands Code, Title 23, Chapter 12, §1135). The “general disaster relief fund” within the treasury is used to meet necessary expenses or serious needs of individuals or families that cannot otherwise be met from other means. Grants of assistance cannot exceed $5,000 per family per incident. The fund consists of appropriations by the legislature and the proceeds of federal grants (Virgin Islands Code, Title 33, Chapter 111, §3041).

When this assistance it no longer needed, the governor’s emergency declaration can only be terminated by a federal executive order (Bea et. al, 2004).
Discussion of Challenges, Opportunities and Overall Lessons

As can be seen, one of the greatest challenges of the U.S. Virgin islands is its geographic isolation. The geographic location makes it susceptible to a bevy of natural disasters. Unfortunately, this particular problem cannot be rectified. Making matters worse, the booming tourism industry means that citizens as well as visitors will be exposed to these types of natural disasters. With projected population increases, it is essential that the territory’s government take a proactive stance towards emergency management.

Despite this challenge facing the small-island territory, the U.S. Virgin Islands can lay claim to having made great strides with regards to its emergency management initiatives. By undertaking such projects as the underground burial of electrical power lines, slated installation of a tsunami warning system, and assessment of the structural integrity of critical facilities among others, the U.S. Virgin Islands has clearly demonstrated a commitment and forward-thinking approach to emergency management. And though the hazards faced and challenges posed may always be present, continued commitment and dedication on the part of the government will ensure that emergency management initiatives move in a progressive manner.

A second challenge faced by VITEMA as a result of the territory’s geographic isolation is the limited resources that the territory has continually had to work with.26 As noted earlier, funds and other resources are at a premium. Because this is the inherent context of the U.S. Virgin Islands, VITEMA has needed to master the ability to make use of limited resources and to be more efficient by consolidating resources to as to have them work in a targeted manner.27 In prior years, the 911 system, Public Assistance Program, and Office of Homeland Security operated individually, which resulted in competition amongst each other for limited funds and resources.28 Consolidating all these departments under the jurisdiction of VITEMA ensured that inter-agency competition was substantially reduced if not eradicated.29

Another overall lesson that can be taken away from the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to Mark Walters, is the strong sense of community for residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands.30 This is a small island territory where in more instances than not, people all know each other.31 This statement also extends to key government personnel and their ties to the community. For this reason, emergency management has become a personal endeavor that has engendered a sense of commitment on the part of government.32 VITEMA has consequently sought to engage the community and be accessible to citizens.33 Continuous communication of the territory’s emergency management outlook intends to get citizens to “buy into the vision” of VITEMA.34 The restructuring of VITEMA along with the public outreach program and numerous projects undertaken provide additional evidence of the territory’s goals at strengthening emergency management.

Conclusion

This chapter provided insight into the evolution of emergency management in the U.S. Virgin Islands by highlighting key hazards, major vulnerabilities, and historical disaster events. The chapter also provided an overview of emergency management in this territory, and the mitigation activities which have strengthened the infrastructure of this small-island territory. Some of the key accomplishments of the territory’s emergency management program were also mentioned. This included consolidating the key departments that are tasked with the emergency management and elevating VITEMA to a cabinet-level agency. Additionally, territory-wide building codes were also implemented as well as projects to reduce the damage and downtime to the electrical grid system in the aftermath of a disaster.

While the territory should be lauded for the mitigation steps which have been undertaken, the fact remains that there is an inherent exposure to natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Combined with vulnerabilities such as being a geographically isolated territory and having limited resources, it becomes evident that the territory must maintain an ongoing vision toward means of strengthening emergency management protocols.

Although the Virgin Islands will undoubtedly have the backing of the United States federal government should disaster supersede their response capacities, this assurance has not resulted in a lackluster effort with regards to the territory’s disaster mitigation and planning. By continually planning and implementing effective mitigation strategies, the Virgin Islands will serve as the standard for other Caribbean islands to follow. The territory can become a beacon to other small-island nations as to what can be accomplished when dedication, commitment, and follow-through on emergency management initiatives take place.


REFERENCES
Alperen, Martin, J. (2006). Towards a Homeland Security Strategy for the United States Virgin Islands. Master’s thesis. Naval Post Graduate School
Bate, J. (2000). Underground Power Projects to be Done by Fall. Saint Croix Source. Retrieved on January 3, 2011 from http://stcroixsource.com/content/news/local-news/2000/05/18/underground-power-projects-be-done-fall
Bea, K., Runyon, C.L., Warnock, K.M. (2004). U.S. Virgin Islands Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities. CRS Report for Congress. Retrieved October 10, 2010 from http://www.policyarchive.org/handle/10207/bitstreams/3943.pdf
Blackburn, J. (2010). The Man Who Salvaged VITEMA. Virgin Islands Daily News. Retrieved February, 8, 2011 from http://virginislandsdailynews.com/news/the-man-who-salvaged-vitema-1.1082901#axzz1Db4JhaHr
Blackburn, J. (2010). VITEMA Hopes to Install 10 Tsunami Warning Sirens by March. Virgin Islands Daily News. Retrieved on February 8, 2011 from http://virginislandsdailynews.com/news/vitema-hopes-to-install-10-tsunami-warning-sirens-by-march-1.1079789#axzz1Db4JhaHr
Buchanan, C. (2008). Warning Plan Needed for Earthquake and Tsunami, Emergency Responders Say. Saint Croix Source. Retrieved January, 10, 2011 from http://stcroixsource.com/content/news/local-news/2008/04/10/warning-plan-needed-earthquake-and-tsunami-emergency-responders-s
Building Better. Case Studies: U.S. Virgin Islands. n.d. Retrieved October 12, 2010 from http://www.riverwatchonline.org/flood_recovery/femamitigation/Proceed/00090.pdf
Charlie Amalie United States Virgin Islands (2010). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 10, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Amalie,_U.S._Virgin_Islands
Cooper, C. (2010, June 1). New VITEMA Alert System Will Call You if Trouble Looms. (Virgin Islands Daily News). Retrieved on January 4, 2011 from http://virginislandsdailynews.com/news/new-vitema-alert-system-will-call-you-if-trouble-looms-1.824806
FEMA. (2007). New Building Code & Power Upgrade, U.S. Virgin Islands. Retrieved on January 21, 2011 from http://www.fema.gov/mitigationbp/bestPracticeDetail.do?mitssId=950
Greaux, J. (2010). Territorial Emergency Operations Plan is Milestone Achievement. United States Virgin Islands: Office Governor John P. De Jongh, Jr. Retrieved on January 28, 2011 from http://www.governordejongh.com/blog/2010/11/territorial-emergency-operations-plan-is-milestone-achievement.html
Hurricane Alley (2010), Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Retrieved September 21, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Alley
Hurricane Bertha (1996). (2011). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Retrieved February 9, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Bertha_(1996)
Hurricane Earl (2010). (2011). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Retrieved February 9, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Earl_(2010)
Hurricane Erika (1997). (2011). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Retrieved February 9, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Erika_(1997)
Hurricane Georges. (2011). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Retrieved February 9, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Georges
Hurricane Hugo. (2011). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Retrieved February 9, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Hugo#St._Croix
Hurricane Klaus. (2011). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Retrieved February 9, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Klaus_(1984)
Hurricane Lenny. (2011). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Retrieved February 9, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Lenny
Hurricane Marilyn. (2011). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Retrieved February 9, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Marilyn
Hurricane Omar (2008). (2011). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Retrieved February 9, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Omar_(2008)
Island Resources Foundation. (2010). VITEMA Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Kossler, B. (2009). Disaster Agencies Outline Relief Programs. Saint John Source. Retrieved January 3, 2011 from http://stjohnsource.com/content/news/local-news/2009/08/14/disaster-agencies-outline-relief-programs
Kossler, B. (2010). Disaster Preparedness Still a Work in Progress, Officials Say. Saint John Source. Retrieved January 3, 2011 from http://stjohnsource.com/content/news/local-news/2010/02/25/disaster-preparedness-still-work-progress-officials-say
Kossler, B. (2009). FEMA Giving Territory 38 Generators for Emergency Shelters. Saint John Source. Retrieved January, 4 2011 from http://stjohnsource.com/content/news/local-news/2009/03/26/fema-giving-territory-38-generators-emergency-shelters
McCray, L.S. (2009). Governor Signs Bill Making VITEMA a Cabinet Post. Saint Thomas Source. Retrieved January 4, 2011 from http://stthomassource.com/content/news/local-news/2009/07/03/governor-signs-bill-making-vitema-cabinet-post

Morris, M. (2010). Walters to Hand Over Reigns of VITEMA in January. Saint Thomas Source. Retrieved on January 4, 2011 from http://stthomassource.com/content/news/local-news/2010/12/12/walters-hand-over-reins-vitema-january


National Park Service: U.S. Department of the Interior (2009). Virgin Islands Retrieved September 21, 2010 from http://www.nps.gov/viis/naturescience/earthquakes-and-tsunamis.htm
Nealon, J.W. and Dillon, W.P. (2001). Earthquake and Tsunamis in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 141-00.
Pancham, A. (2009). Government Agencies Assess Emergency Preparedness. Saint Croix Source. Retrieved on January 3, 2011 from http://stcroixsource.com/content/news/local-news/2009/06/02/government-agencies-assess-hurricane-preparedness
Reid, P. (2010). Officials: Threat of Tsunamis is Very Real. Saint Croix Source. Retrieved on December 22, 2010 from http://stcroixsource.com/content/news/local-news/2010/07/24/officials-threat-tsunamis-very-real
Saint Croix. U.S. Virgin Islands. (2010). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 10, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Croix,_U.S._Virgin_Islands
Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands. (2010). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 10, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_John,_U.S._Virgin_Islands
Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. (2010). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 10, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Thomas,_U.S._Virgin_Islands
Shimel, J. (2004). VITEMA to Develop New Disaster Mitigation Plan. Saint Thomas Source. Retrieved on December 22, 2010 from http://stthomassource.com/content/news/local-news/2004/06/24/vitema-develop-new-disaster-mitigation-plan
Source Staff. (2009, December 4). V.I. Homeland Security Conducts Emergency Operations Training. Saint Croix Source. Retrieved on January, 4 2010 from http://stcroixsource.com/content/news/local-government/2009/12/04/vi-homeland-security-conducts-emergency-operations-training
Stowens, C. (2007). New Report: V.I. Child Poverty Rate Twice the National Average. Saint Thomas Source Retrieved December 28, 2010 from http://stthomassource.com/content/news/local-news/2007/01/12/new-report-vi-child-poverty-rate-twice-national-average
United States Virgin Islands. (2010). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved September 13, 2010, from Encyclopaeia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/629915/United-States-Virgin-Islands
United States Virgin Islands (2010). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 10, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Virgin_Islands
United States Virgin Islands: Office Governor John P. De Jongh, Jr. (2010). Governor de Jongh Announces New Dedication Ceremony for New VITEMA Headquarters on St. Thomas. Retrieved on January 3, 2011 from http://www.governordejongh.com/news/releases/2010/06/Governor-Announces-Dedication-Ceremony-for-VITEMA-headquarters-6-21-10.html
United States Virgin Islands: Office Governor John P. De Jongh, Jr. (2010). VITEMA Director Mark Walters Prepares to Request Budget to Complement Federal Funds; Ensure Emergency Preparedness. Retrieved on January 3, 2011 from http://www.governordejongh.com/news/releases/2010/07/vitema-director-prepares-to-request-budget.html
USVI Department of Planning and Natural Resources. (2005) Division of Building Permits. Retrieved from http://www.dpnr.gov.vi/permits.htm on 10-26-2010
U.S. Virgin Islands. (n.d.). U.S. Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Information System. Retrieved October 13, 2010 from http://coris.noaa.gov/activities/coral_demographics/09_USVI.pdf
V.I. Business Staff (2011). One Paper. St. Croix, USVI Signs Agreement to Become Disaster Resistant Community Under New FEMA Initiative. Retrieved January 2, 2011 from http://www.onepaper.com/vibusiness/?v=d&i=&s=News:In+The+News&p=5716.
Virgin Islands. (2010). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved September 20, 2010, from Encyclopedia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/629910/Virgin-Islands
Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (2011). About WAPA. Retrieved on January 17, 2011 from http://www.viwapa.vi/AboutUs/AboutWAPA.aspx
Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (2010). Project Details. Retrieved on January 17, 2011 from http://www.viwapa.vi/AboutUs/Projects/ProjectDetails/10-01-13/Christiansted_Underground_Project.aspx
VITEMA (2011). Agency Overview. Retrieved January 3, 2011 from http://www.vitema.gov/about/overview.html
Zack, A. and Larsen, M.C. (1994). Island Hydrology: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. National Geographic Research & Exploration: Water Issue, 126-134. Retrieved September 21, 2010 from http://pr.water.usgs.gov/public/webb/bibliography/abstract010.html


1 Carlos Samuel is a PhD student in the Department of Public Administration at the University of North Texas.

2 David A. McEntire is an Associate Professor in the Emergency Administration and Planning Program in the Department of Public Administration at the University of North Texas.

3 Mark Walters (Former Director of the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, Interview 1/28/2011

4 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

5 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

6 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

7 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

8 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

9 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

10 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

11 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

12, Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

13 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

14 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

15 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

16 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

17 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

18 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

19 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

20 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

21 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

22 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

23 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

24 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

25 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

26 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

27 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

28 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

29 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

30 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

31 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

32 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

33 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011

34 Walters Interview, 1/28/2011



Directory: hiedu -> downloads -> compemmgmtbookproject
compemmgmtbookproject -> Haiti’s Emergency Management: a case of Regional Support, Challenges, Opportunities, and Recommendations for the Future Erin Fordyce1, Abdul-Akeem Sadiq2, and Grace Chikoto3 Introduction
compemmgmtbookproject -> Emergency Management in Cuba: Disasters Experienced, Lessons Learned, and Recommendations for the Future
compemmgmtbookproject -> Emergency Management in the United States: Disasters Experienced, Lessons Learned, and Recommendations for the Future David A. McEntire, Ph. D. 1 Introduction
compemmgmtbookproject -> Disaster Management and India: Responding Internally and Simultaneously in Neighboring Countries Kailash Gupta, be(Elec.), Mba(iima)1 Introduction
compemmgmtbookproject -> Emergency Management in Denmark: Lessons Learned At Home and Abroad Joanne Stone Wyman, Ph. D. 1 Introduction
compemmgmtbookproject -> Emergency Management in China
compemmgmtbookproject -> Emergency Management in the Federal Republic of Germany: Preserving its Critical Infrastructures from Hazardous Natural Events and Terrorist Acts Maureen Connolly, Ed. D
compemmgmtbookproject -> Emergency Management in Scandinavia: Lessons Learned At Home and Abroad Joanne Stone Wyman, Ph. D. 1 Introduction
compemmgmtbookproject -> Zimbabwe’s Emergency Management System: a promising Development
compemmgmtbookproject -> Emergency Management in Canada: Near Misses and Moving Targets

Download 126.13 Kb.

Share with your friends:
1   2   3




The database is protected by copyright ©ininet.org 2020
send message

    Main page