Today is the day we’ve all been dreading: The first tropical storm has formed in the Atlantic, and even though it’s up near Bermuda and is not a threat to us here in the Virgin Islands, its very existence should ring alarm bells through the halls of our government.
If a storm formed this early — nearly two weeks before the official start of the 2019 Hurricane Season, what does that tell us? The people of the Virgin Islands know the answer: We should be prepared. Now. Right now.
We the people know because Irma and Maria put us through an experience that amounts to “hurricane school.” Those terrible storms and the terrible times afterward taught us everything that we should have done — to protect ourselves, our property and our economy.
So now we know. We have Ph.D.s in hurricanes.
But it’s beginning to look like our new government officials don’t know.
If they learned any valuable lessons at all, they would have announced the location of shelters by now. And those shelters would be well stocked with the essentials and would have been inspected, reinforced and possibly even rebuilt to meet all the codes that ensure they are structurally strong enough to truly be safe havens.
Instead, as The Daily News reported on Tuesday, the shelter situation is merely a work-in-progress on which the progress is slow and uncoordinated.
Also troubling is the absence of any apparent concerted effort to identify and prepare aid distribution centers. The aftermath of a major hurricane strike is not the time to call the mainland for shipments of supplies.
Our new government leaders have less than six months on the job, but that’s no excuse for allowing the creeping inertia, which so often undermines good intentions, to put us in peril.
The new administration won election on the promise it would “change course now.” Although many people who cast ballots for “change” have different ideas about what the changes should be, all want the assurance that the government takes the people’s needs seriously and is doing all it can to meet those needs.
We all need protection from hurricanes because hurricanes are coming. No doubt about it. The only question is “when and how bad?”
The question should never be: Are we ready?
June 1 is the beginning of Hurricane Season. By then, the answer from Government House must be “Yes.”