US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association

The Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands is “pushing hard” to have Cruz Bay, St. John energized next week, Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp assured the public.

Speaking to reporters at Government House, St. Croix, during a press conference on Oct. 18, Mapp said off-island linemen will join workers from the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority on St. John to support WAPA’s power restoration efforts.

Mapp visited St. John on Oct. 18, where he spoke with members of the community, business owners and National Park Service staff. The governor visited both Cruz Bay and Coral Bay and several other sites on the island, including Trunk Bay, Calabash Boom Housing Community and the landfill. He agreed there is still much work yet to be done on the island, but assured residents that St. John remains a priority.

“You’re not being forgotten,” he said. He added that the goal of energizing Cruz Bay next week will undoubtedly “bring a sense of hope and a spirit of recovery, as you’re going to see your power distribution system being rebuilt.”

While the Federal Emergency Management Agency continues to work toward the goal of restoring power to 90 percent of the territory by Christmas, Mapp explained that only homes with unbreached roofs are eligible for power restoration. WAPA cannot connect power to homes covered with tarpaulins or with other temporary fixtures. Likewise, homes with damaged or broken weatherheads will not be serviced.

The governor was scheduled to meet with the Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority Roger Merritt to discuss “picking up the pace” of trash and debris removal on St. John. Federal Coordinating Officer of FEMA Region II William “Bill” Vogel reported about 75,000 cubic yards of debris have been removed from the territory to date.

Mapp and Commissioner of Labor Catherine Hendry reported there are many job opportunities available within the territory. There are currently 2,117 positions registered at the Department of Labor. Residents interested in learning about these opportunities can visit or stop by the Department of Labor’s offices. People who lost employment as a result of Hurricane Irma must file a claim with the Department of Labor by Oct. 30. The deadline for filing a claim related to Hurricane Maria is Nov. 7. The St. Croix Department of Labor is reopening its Sion Farm facility effective Oct. 19.

Mapp reported that prior to Hurricane Irma, he filed a petition with the Council on Environmental Quality for three major projects in the territory that would be significant employment drivers. He has been notified by the council that these projects may qualify for approval, pending further assessment. If approved, 1,500 jobs in the private sector could be created.

FEMA’s Vogel reported the agency continues to work on clearing harbors, improving cellular communications, clearing debris and installing generators and blue roofs throughout the territory. More than 125 blue roofs were installed on Oct. 18; 893 have been installed to date.

Vogel reminded Virgin Islanders to be cautious of individuals impersonating FEMA inspectors. He said FEMA’s housing inspectors will not ask for personal information over the phone, via text or online; they will only contact residents to make appointments. Residents can report suspected fraud by calling the FEMA fraud hotline at 1-866-720-5721.

The Office of the Lieutenant Governor will resume offering its services on Oct. 20.

Commissioner of Education Sharon McCollum reported eight schools remain closed on St. Croix: Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School; Lew Muckle Elementary School; Alfredo Andrews Elementary School; Eulalie R. Rivera Elementary School; Alexander Henderson Elementary School; John H. Woodson Junior High School; Elena L. Christian Junior High School; and Arthur A. Richards Junior High School.

The Department of Motor Vehicles is now open throughout the territory, offering limited services. The Department is not able to issue driver’s licenses or identification cards at this time.

Effective immediately, uniform curfew hours of 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. will be in place across all four Virgin Islands.

Mapp thanked the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands for their continued patience during the hurricane recovery period, and assured: “We are in fact making progress.”