Note: This presentation was based upon a post Hurricane Hugo Assessment, focussing on Sustainable Development, prepared by Lynette Atwell for PAHO in December, 1993.
The study was required:
Hurricane Hugo was a Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds varying between 135 to 160 miles per hour, with its centre passing some 60 milers to the south of the BVI. Storm surge of 3 to 4 feet was experienced by the BVI and wave height activity of 9 to 12 feet was observed in some areas.The Economic Consequences of Hurricane Hugo
The total dollar loss to the British Virgin Islands was $40 million dollars which exceeded the entire recurrent expenditure for 1989. Some indication of losses of agencies are indicated in Table I
Table I - Losses reported by Agencies/Government Departments Hurricane Hugo 1989
Amount of Loss
|Loss to farmers|
|Compensation to Fishermen|
|National Parks Trust||
|Ports and Marine Services||
|Repairs and Replacement|
|Electricity Corporation Water and Sewerage Department||
|Loss of revenue not included|
|Telecommunications (Cable and Wireless)||
|26% of this cost was for replacement of external lives. Loss f revenue was not included in this cost|
|Civil Aviation Department||
|30% of damage for built development|
|75% of damage was to roofs of buildings|
|Repairs replacement of schools|
|Preliminary estimates for repairs to sea defence works|
|Marinas and Boats||
The above figures represent costs for replacement of building, in these figures no account was taken of loss of revenue and therefore do not represent a full picture of losses incurred.
The impact on employment was felt most in the tourism industry, in that 231 persons lost their jobs from four hotels. This loss was compensated for by increase in construction activity after the hurricane.
The above is a summary of what happened, however, it does indicate what the problems are if there are no strong mechanisms in place for damage assessment after any hurricane.
Because the assessment was done four years after the fact, a great amount of information was no longer available.
The following were the categories of information which could not be included in the assessment:
Although all the figures were not available the amount of loss exceeded the entire recurrent expenditure of the BVI government for 1989, with total loss amounting to $35 - $40 million US.Social Impacts
The major problems in this area arose because of damage to housing and a poor shelter management programme which did not adequately address the needs of the homeless.Housing
One hundred persons were made homeless with 30% (960) of all of the housing units in the territory being damaged; 10% (96) of these dwelling units were severely damaged, that is with costs of $80,000 US and above.
The total damage estimated to dwelling units was $14,640,000. Much of the damage to housing was to the roofs, which amounted to 75% of all damage to housing..Schools
Eight schools experienced damage with one having to be replaced. Much of the damage to schools was attributed to poor maintenance. There was serious disruption of children in affected schools as four schools had to be relocated while repairs were being carried out. Alternate school sites had to be found and children had to be transported to temporary schools.Shelter Management
The shelter management programme did not work well after the hurricane. The main reasons for this were:
Although there was an awareness of the need to record environmental impacts, no mechanisms were in place do so. As a result much of the reporting was qualitative in nature.
It was estimated that 40% of the mangrove area had been wind damaged, damage had been sustained on all coasts of Tortola and Beef Island with the greatest damage on the South coasts. Beaches had been eroded between 5 and 10 yards inland .
In reporting on this area some attempt was made by the agency responsible - the Conservation Department - to examine causative factors for the damage as well as to recommend mitigative measures.
The reasons cited for damage were:
The mitigative measures recommended were:
The above is a summary of economic, social and environmental consequences of natural hazards.
There were a number of reasons why damage to build development and infrastructure were so great. These were:
Coastal areas are predictable impact areas for hurricanes, however in an island with limited land space development may have to be considered in areas which are not optimally suited for development. This would indicate the need for stringent development standards. In the case of the BVI, although development was located in areas that were considered vulnerable, no great attention had been paid to measures which would make development less vulnerable to wind and water damage. As a result some contributing factors to damage in coastal areas were because of extreme location to the sea, and because of the lack of observance of minimal building lines and building standards.Recommendations
Based upon the outcome of the assessment a number of recommendations were made for the inclusion of mitigation measures in the development planning process.
The major recommendations were:
Some of the recommendations were implemented and the Hazard and Risk Assessment Study has been completed.
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