This expert talk will be presented by Dr Nick Jarritt , Director – Climate Risk, Water Management & Environmental Policy, Wood. Nick is an environmental consultant with over 20 years of experience in flood risk management and environmental policy. He leads the Advisory Services team in Wood’s UK Environment & Infrastructure business.
About the talk:
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) suffered three catastrophic natural disasters in August and September 2017. In August, the BVI was struck with unprecedented flooding resulting from over 14 inches of rainfall in 20 hours and in September, hurricanes Irma and Maria, brought extreme winds, heavy rainfall and storm surge flooding. With the effects of climate change, such events can be expected to be more frequent. For the Territory, working towards resilience, safeguarding life and livelihoods to flooding is an essential part the comprehensive disaster management strategy of the Virgin Islands.
The economy of the BVI is heavily dependent on the financial and tourism sectors, and the disruption caused by flooding can have serious economic consequences. The Government of the BVI has therefore led a Hydrology and Flood Risk Reduction study, aiming to develop a holistic approach to flood risk management. The foundation of the project is the characterisation of flooding risk through detailed analysis of rainfall data, climate change scenarios and hydraulic modelling. Using this analysis the project has: identified critical flood risk areas and capacity pinch points; recommended infrastructure measures to improve flow conveyance; incorporated flood risk into development planning; enhanced emergency planning and response; and prepared materials to support community awareness and preparedness for flooding through property-level mitigation and protection.
The work has been underpinned by a programme of community and business engagement, raising the awareness of the population to flood risk and what can be done to make the BVI more resilient to flooding. This has included engagement with the next generation through school presentations and a poster competition. Through this approach, the work has covered all aspects of an integrated approach to flood risk management that can be replicated throughout the Caribbean, and which will provide the foundation for ongoing mitigation and resilience to flood risk.