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Governor signs AARP-backed disaster-preparedness law in U.S. Virgin Islands

En español | We applaud lawmakers for passing – and Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. for signing last month – a law in the U.S. Virgin Islands to protect older and disabled adults when hurricanes and other natural disasters strike.

The AARP-backed law will set up a special unit within the islands’ emergency management agency focused specifically on the needs of older adults and those with disabilities, who are often disproportionately impacted by extreme weather events.

Our Virgin Islands office successfully pushed for the legislation to include a tracking system so caregivers can locate loved ones if they need to be evacuated off the islands. It would apply to residents in long-term care facilities as well as those living independently. 

“AARP in the Virgin Islands sees support for this bill as a step toward achieving the goals and dreams of all Virgin Islanders to age safely in their home,” said Troy A. De Chabert-Schuster, state director for AARP Virgin Islands. “We commend the members of the legislature who worked to end biases and provide the vulnerable population and their families with access to emergency relief services.”

The law builds on AARP VI’s successful advocacy in 2016 for a disaster registry for elderly and disabled residents and their caregivers, which gives government officials a way to contact vulnerable residents during disasters to see if they need assistance. The new unit will make it easier to follow up with needed services.

The measure also complements our national work to keep older Americans healthy, safe and informed during increasingly frequent and powerful natural disasters. 

Last year, we partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to launch the AARP Disaster Resilience Tool Kit. The free resource offers guidance for local and state government officials on how to implement community plans to reduce risks to older adults during extreme weather events.

Learn about our latest disaster-preparedness efforts, and read more about our advocacy in the Virgin Islands.

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