MESSAGE BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
HONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE
5th September, 2020
HURRICANE IRMA-COVID-19: REFLECTIONS AND PROJECTIONS
Good day and God’s blessings to my people of the Virgin Islands.
Sunday, 6th September, 2020, will mark three years since our small, but beautiful islands and our people were struck by a catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane, Irma.
This was mere weeks after major flooding caused damage in parts of the Territory. Just two weeks later, when we thought it could get no worst, up came Maria, another catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane.
These three consecutive catastrophic events—one flood and two hurricanes—remind us 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 trust in God that better days were ahead.
Clearly, our economy was devastated with losses that were estimated by some to be as high as $3 billion, with many homes, jobs, personal possessions, and hope 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.
Now let us fast-forward three years later from 2017 to 2020.
Many of us are still struggling to get back to where we were before those 2017 catastrophic events. Sometimes the burden can be so overpowering that it is difficult to see and appreciate the positives.
Please permit me to tell you that now is the time to lift our Faith with the assurance in God that our tomorrows will be better than our yesterdays.
When your new Government took office in February 2019, we 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 were finally repaired, thereby allowing our 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.
With BVILOVE, we were on a path of progress towards restoring hope and prosperity for the people and Territory of the Virgin Islands.
In early 2020, 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.
The evidence shows that no matter how daunting the challenges, we, as a people, have the wherewithal to make it through.
We have the talent, the skill, and the ability – the tenacity, and the Faith to get back on our feet. Indeed, tough times bring out the best in us, and reveal strengths we never knew we had.
As we look back on the trials that we have overcome due to the catastrophic events three years ago that we are still recovering from, while faced with the realities of COVID-19, I know that our people will rise to the occasion because together we always do.
Every challenge that we have been through, and are going through, is really God’s test to prepare us for what we are going to.
What are we going to you may ask? We are going to prosperity– to the new BVI, in ‘The New Regular’.
But is it important to note that 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.
So, in this 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season, three years after, let us 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.
Let us continue to pray for our Territory and for the world, and remember that we are in this together as only through unity and our Faith in God will we make our tomorrows better than our yesterdays.
So with BVILOVE, I say be safe, be prepared, be vigilant.
I thank you.