BVI to upgrade building codes in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma

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By Nadia James-Harris

ROAD TOWN, BVI — Plans are being made to review and upgrade the British Virgin Islands’ building codes following the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma.

Speaking on local radio on Monday, premier and minister of finance, Dr Orlando Smith, said, “This hurricane that hit us is the scale we have never seen before, it was a Category 5, and it was really devastating. Interestingly just before that, we had intense flooding, again, such as we never had before in the BVI. Times have changed, and global warming is definitely affecting us and we now have to look at where we are as a country and make the adjustments to suit the times in which we live.”

The territory’s leader stated, “We have to take lessons from what has happened, certainly with Irma and review our building codes. We have lost and received damage to about 70 percent of our buildings, and that now gives us an opportunity to build smarter and stronger.”

The premier said just a few months ago, he received a copy of the first draft of the new building code because he had some concerns about the way buildings were being constructed.

He added, “But now we have to review that again, and when we do that, we will want to involve the community and get your contributions so that in the end, we will be able to build stronger and better.”

Also speaking in support of the building code review, junior minister for trade, investment promotion and consumer affairs, Marlon Penn, said, “We have an opportunity to rebuild and to do new things and rebuild green. Our rebuilding efforts have to take into effect the impact of global warming, as we have seen the impact of global warming first-hand.”

Sharing similar sentiments was the junior minister for tourism, Archibald Christian, who said that the Category 5 hurricanes seem to be the new norm, but the territory now needs to build to withstand a Category 5 plus.

He added, “We need to build stronger and better, and it will take the efforts of professionals to assist us. We have a number of engineers here in the territory, as well as those from the region and internationally but it can’t be business as usual anymore when it comes to building. We need to be building bunkers now that can withstand a Category 5 hurricane and above.”

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