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DDM under fire for no ‘sirens warning system’ during Tsunami alert

- Government now funding the National Early Warning System & Headquarters destroyed by Hurricane Irma
The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) was not able to use the public sirens, part of their National Emergency Broadcast System, to notify the people about a tsunami alert recently because they were destroyed by the powerful winds of Hurricane Irma in September of 2017. Photo: DDM
For the past six years, Department of Disaster (DDM) Director Sharlene S. Dabreo has been begging the National Democratic Party (NDP) Government for funding for the outdated Headquarters in McNamara to house her staff, but over the years the project has gone unfunded. Photo: Twitter
For the past six years, Department of Disaster (DDM) Director Sharlene S. Dabreo has been begging the National Democratic Party (NDP) Government for funding for the outdated Headquarters in McNamara to house her staff, but over the years the project has gone unfunded. Photo: Twitter
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- It was on January 10, 2018 that the Government run Department of Disaster Management (DDM) issued via social media and a press release a Tsunami warning for the Territory, following a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that occurred north of Honduras.

At the warning time, after 9:00 P.M., most residents were asleep, and the DDM was not able to use the public sirens, part of their National Emergency Broadcast System, because they were destroyed by the powerful winds of Hurricane Irma in September of 2017.

This has caused grave concerns to many residents who where sleeping at the time and could have been alerted only by the emergency sirens around the Territory, including the sister islands.

It is our newsroom's understanding that after much pressure the Cabinet of Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) has approved the expenditure of four hundred and forty two thousand dollars ($442,000), to re-establish the National Early Warning System and restore the DDM Headquarters.

Governor is the new leader

This was made public by the United Kingdom appointed Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert aka ‘Gus’ in a DDM media statement.

Governor Jaspert, according to the January 17, 2018 release, said “the Premier and Members of his Cabinet have met and received an indication of what will be needed to bring the system back to a fully functional state.”

He further added, “I am pleased that the funding will now be made available to the DDM to commence the restoration of the network. It is critical that these instruments be available as we enter into what might be another active hurricane season and to ensure that we have the ability to quickly alert the public in times of sudden onset events.”

For the past six years, DDM Director Sharlene S. DaBreo has been begging the National Democratic Party (NDP) Government for funding for the outdated Headquarters to house her staff, but over the years the project has gone unfunded.

While last year there were a few dollars placed on the Budget to get the project on the way, it took two hurricanes and the intervention of Governor Jaspert to obtain the adequate funding. Part of the $442,000 will go to upgrade the DDM Headquarters in McNamara, on the main island of Tortola.

Mixed reviews on DDM?

In announcing the approval of the funds for DDM, the Governor confirmed, “The new facilities to be built will not only provide for the establishment of a new National Emergency Operations Centre, but will accommodate the 15 members of DDM staff and make provisions for the storage of emergency supplies and for the continuity of critical Government functions in the event of catastrophic events such as those we recently experienced. This centre is critical to the future of the Territory and our ability to ensure that residents are fully prepared and are able to be quickly notified.”

While the new headquarters is being constructed Government has also approved the temporary establishment of the DDM in the Simmonds Building on DeCastro Street, in Road Town.

There continues to be mixed public opinion on how the local DDM handled the situation following the floods of August 2017, hurricanes Irma and Maria warnings, the aid distributions and other issues surrounding the Territory’s recovery efforts.

Ms DaBreo has been at the helm of DDM for over 18 years.

21 Responses to “DDM under fire for no ‘sirens warning system’ during Tsunami alert”

  • DaBreo.... (18/01/2018, 10:50) Like (28) Dislike (14) Reply
    With all due respect Dabreo needs to be fired.
  • Second That (18/01/2018, 10:53) Like (6) Dislike (10) Reply
    She and NDP gov. Privatize DDM let's have a FEMA up in here
    • Really? (18/01/2018, 11:43) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
      How is FEMA suppose to work in the Virgin Islands? Are you going to ask non-Americans who live outside the US to pay taxes to American so they could use an American government program to rebuild? How do you think Americans will react to this?
  • civil servant (18/01/2018, 10:53) Like (4) Dislike (6) Reply
    Time for her to go to be a ps
    • please (18/01/2018, 12:36) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
      If she cant handle DDM, why should she be a PS. They need to send her off to school like what they usually do when they area getting rid of someone in top management
  • liberal (18/01/2018, 11:08) Like (22) Dislike (0) Reply
    Look here to end a long story short. The dammm Government need to be more serious with the people and stop playing politrics. This is the thing happening were request was made and our Government blindside this and didn't fund the DDM which should have been PRIORITY now we have nothing. I have seen the stress where more assistance is well needed before and since the 2 hurricanes in DDM, PWD and Enviroment Department. Our Government is playing the beings of our people and it needs to stop. pressure the Cabinet of Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) has approved the expenditure of four hundred and forty two thousand dollars ($442,000), to re-establish the National Early Warning System and restore the DDM Headquarters. was requested even long before our new Governor but the last Governor was just as bad as the Government but should have also taken the funds out when he had taken funds for the Police department. Now we are in a miserable and bad situation seeing that the Government is only now putting a plan in order for recovery which should have been in and upgraded each year. SMDH.
  • time is out (18/01/2018, 11:10) Like (15) Dislike (2) Reply
    its time for all ah dem to go home and let people who know what they doing handle this thing. They all weak, and all SD was showing more fright and was clearly panicky during our September ordeals. It is too much for them
  • Observer (18/01/2018, 12:06) Like (22) Dislike (4) Reply
    Was the siren damaged during the storms? I cant help thinking that someone is digging for skeletons. Remember the days when those sirens went off before the hurricanes? No one paid attention at that time. During the past couple of years, the BVIs received several warnings from the Met. Office in Puerto Rico again no one paid them heed. Lets be fair and don't bloggi because we just want to.
  • l (18/01/2018, 13:05) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
    The siren is only heard in town and the surrounding areas. In the west, we're on our own.
  • Just Woke (18/01/2018, 14:02) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
    Alarm or no Alarm.. What difference will alarm make..This is just an incompetent department. Changes in Personnel need to made.. Got a text in the heat of the hurricane from DDM saying brace prepared for a direct hit hurricane is heading directly to Road town.. . We were alreadygetting hit. I had already loss some of my windows when the text came.
    • east end (19/01/2018, 11:25) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      The siren is/places on the police station... it can not be heard from Red rock area ... so there systems are not load enough or not strategically placed... more is need ...
  • Marie Blyden (18/01/2018, 17:31) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Ms Dabreo, I for one would like to see you succeed in restoring the tsunami alert system, but you should be aware all of us who live near the beaches should be alerted immediately. When the warnings were sounded for a drill, we down here on Josiah’s Bay could not hear them. I cannot understand where the tsunami would hit first, there is no warning for everyone down here to get out. That goes for every area where people are at high risk of the getting killed. I hope you have a public meeting soon to address this very critical situation and announce it so all can attend. Thank you.
  • wize up (18/01/2018, 19:37) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    Hazard warnings or aeroplane? you only have so much money to go around-better schools for our son and daughters or build beaches for cruises ship passengers!!!!!(I gone)
  • Sue (18/01/2018, 20:06) Like (1) Dislike (3) Reply
    Please please folks leave dabreo and the govt alone let them strive can't you see my Jesus is coming soon start getting ready and stop these foolishness go read you all Bible and pray
  • facts (19/01/2018, 00:59) Like (1) Dislike (5) Reply
    Me dabro is doing a great job
  • about time (19/01/2018, 07:45) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    About time for her to go. Her and her arrogance
  • Ridiculous (19/01/2018, 10:38) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Half a million on a siren is ridiculous and ludicrous waste of money given the priorities out there. The first money spent should be a concrete bunker with satellite phone and radio communication to other island so we don't get cut off again. No fancy $7mil building, one concrete bunker with no windows is the solution, if I were Premier id also refuse the ludicrous request


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