I am heading back to the British Virgin Islands from Puerto Rico to assess the situation on the ground, help mobilise support, meet with officials and distribute aid.
There is an extreme sense of urgency to get food, water and aid supplies into the BVI, and we are bringing as much as we can. Once people have these, restoring order and calm to the islands will be far quicker and simpler.
I am meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Pickering upon arrival in the BVI to discuss the aid situation. I have also been in touch with the BVI Governor Gus Jaspert, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and with the Puerto Rican government, who are all working to coordinate everything in very tough circumstances. More can be done, but we are trying as hard as possible to get as much food, water and aid in as possible.
Puerto Rico has kindly offered to help fly food and water into the BVI, which the Governor confirmed would be welcomed. We were able to convey that message back to the Puerto Rican government, and are hopeful this will be organised quickly. There is a small runway on Virgin Gorda that could potentially be used, and airdropping the supplies in is also being investigated. Tortola Airport is operational now.
The Governor is reviewing the food situation on both Tortola and Virgin Gorda today to decide whether this is absolutely necessary. I am told the BVI Police are working well with the Marines to establish order, but there are still some reports of unrest.
The lack of communications within the BVI remains a large problem. Without reliable communications it is really difficult to be able to help people. We now have a satellite phone with WiFi that we hope will work – if it does I will be able to stay on in the BVI. If not, I will need to soon return to Puerto Rico to continue mobilising aid.
Thank you for all of your continued support.