HAMILTON, Bermuda – Statement by Senator the Honourable Lieutenant Colonel David A. Burch, OBE (Mil), ED, JP Bermuda’s Minister of Labour, Home Affairs and Housing
On Hurricane Igor:
As I address you, we are just over 24 hours away from experiencing the beginning of what is expected to be the ferocious impact of Hurricane Igor.
We have all heard the reports from the Bermuda Weather Service that this storm will be a long and punishing one and the potential for injury and physical damage is great.
It is my sincere hope that you and your families take the remainder of today to finalise your hurricane preparations, by securing your homes, your property and ensuring that you have adequate supplies.
Earlier this morning the Emergency Measures Organisation met to get the latest update on Hurricane Igor and the status of preparations by the security forces and essential services.
I want to take this opportunity to assure the people of Bermuda that your Government is doing everything possible to ensure our preparedness prior to and post the storm.
There is no doubt that in the immediate aftermath of the storm, there will be a heightened level of activity with members of the public wishing to check on the wellbeing of their friends and family, and the status of their property.
I want to caution you though, that this will be a critical period of assessment by our Emergency Services personnel, such as Fire, Police and the Bermuda Regiment.
From a public safety stand point I am urging members of the public to refrain from travelling the roads to explore any damage that may have been caused. It will be imperative that a full assessment by our emergency teams is done as quickly as possible.
Let me take a few minutes to touch on some very critical points that residents should be aware of as the storm approaches.
• By late Sunday night, the worst of the storm will begin. It will be at its closest point of approach at 2:00 am Monday morning. We can expect sustained winds of up 90 knots and potential gusts of 110 knots.
The L. F. Wade International Airport is currently open, but it is anticipated that it will close late Saturday afternoon. It is expected to reopen on Monday following an assessment of the runway and the airport facility by the Department of Airport Operations.
• Weather conditions around the Causeway are being monitored. It is anticipated, that in accordance with established protocol, closure of the Causeway will be coincident with the onset of 50 knot Easterly winds. Currently that is forecast for Sunday afternoon. Once a decision is made to close the Causeway, the public will be notified in advance of its closure.
• Residents in low lying areas and who live along the water should be prepared for storm surge flooding and have already been contacted to make the necessary preparations to secure their properties.
• The Ministry of Culture & Social Rehabilitation has prepared and equipped the emergency shelter at CedarBridge Academy. As of 5:00 pm today (Friday), members of the public seeking shelter can begin making their way to this facility.
• The KEMH has reported all is in readiness. The Lambe Foggo Urgent Care Centre will be operational. Nurses and a physician will be on duty at the facility. KEMH ambulances will also be stationed at the facility. The St. John Ambulance Brigade is also deploying an ambulance in St. George.
• Hotels and guest properties are in hurricane preparedness mode and have contingency plans in place. The Bermuda Department of Tourism is monitoring the approaching storm and is continuously liaising with the Bermuda Hotel Association to ensure that visitors have the latest information.
• The Government’s Emergency Assistance Organisation (EAO) will be ready to assist once the storm has passed. Please call the EAO at 292-6325 or 292-6339, should you require emergency help after the storm.
• The Bermuda Electric Light Company and the telecommunications companies have contingency plans in place to begin restoring service following the passage of the storm should that be necessary.
• There is a partial embodiment of elements of the Bermuda Regiment, and those soldiers are asked to report to Warwick Camp as ordered on Sunday. All remaining soldiers should be on standby for possible embodiment after the storm.
• The Bermuda Reserve Police are on standby for embodiment.
• The Emergency Broadcast station at 100.1 FM is the official source for information regarding the Hurricane as necessary just prior to, during and after the storm.
• The EMO will meet again on Monday after the passing of the storm to further update the public on any developments.
• The Ministry of Education wishes to advise that all Government Schools will be closed on Monday during the storm and Tuesday to allow a full assessment of schools prior to reopening.
• At this stage Government Offices will close on Monday.
• Government House has advised that a Royal Navy frigate will be on standby off Bermuda during the storm and will enter port following to lend assistance.
Finally, I wish to take this opportunity to commend the residents on their strength of spirit and courage, during what can easily be described as a challenging time for our Country. I also want to commend – you – the media for providing balanced and accurate information on this storm and encouraging our residents to take the threat seriously.
In recent years, we have witnessed the awesome power of Mother Nature and the devastation that hurricanes inflict on countries and communities.
None of us will soon forget Hurricane Katrina which devastated New Orleans and areas along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and South Florida in 2005.
Closer to home, we’ve experienced our own challenges with the unforgettable Hurricane Emily – 24 years ago and Hurricane Fabian in 2003.
Following each of these disasters, we came together as one to assist in rebuilding our communities.
And it is my genuine belief, that should we sustain serious damage in the wake of this storm, we will rally together once again to ensure that our Island is up and running as swiftly as possible.
It is also in this spirit of unity that I ask you to be mindful of your neighbors, seniors in particular and look out for one another during this testing time for our Island.
I would now like to invite Dr. Guishard to the podium to provide you with specifics on the weather.