US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association

The U.S. Virgin Islands continues to register progress with its recovery efforts as normal activities resume across the territory.

Speaking to reporters at his Friday press conference last week, Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp confirmed the territory will see an uptick in cruise ship calls this season, numerous beaches have been declared safe for swimming and fishing and power restoration will continue over the next week.

The governor also disclosed that a contract has been awarded to Island Roads for St. Thomas’ Main Street Enhancement Project for $12.6 million.

Mapp commended the Department of Tourism, the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority and other public and private sector partners for preparing the territory to welcome cruise visitors next month. St. Thomas is expecting 25 cruise ship calls in Nov., while approximately 90 calls are scheduled for St. Croix this season.

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources, which tests water samples weekly through its Beach Water Quality Monitoring Program, announced Oct. 20 a large number of beaches across the territory are safe for swimming and fishing.

Joining the Governor at the press conference, Commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Devin Carrington warned residents to be wary of price gouging by some businesses, particularly on items such as water and insecticides. Price gouging is a criminal misdemeanor offense that carries a $200 fine and 180 days in jail per instance, he added.

“As a state of emergency has been declared by the governor, a price freeze is in effect. No establishments can raise any prices on essential items. All businesses will be subject to inspections that may result in fines or even imprisonment for price gouging if found guilty,” Carrington cautioned in an earlier written statement.

Mapp announced plans to meet with members of the legislature on Oct. 21, along with Federal Emergency Management Agency Region II Federal Coordinating Officer William L. Vogel and head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lieutenant General Todd T. Semonite, as he prepares to testify before the United States Senate in early Nov. on the territory’s request for resources for mitigation and recovery.

Vogel reported that FEMA continues to conduct power assessments and installations on critical facilities, and have installed 65 generators and deinstalled 11. In total, 81,000 cubic yards of debris have been removed from the territory. To date, 1,145 blue roofs have been installed with 148 completed on Oct. 20.

Mapp re-emphasized that residents should try to repair their weatherheads as soon as possible to facilitate electrical connections to homes. Power restoration teams maintain their goal of restoring electricity to 90 percent of the territory by Christmas.

The governor announced that he spoke with officials from telecommunications company Sprint, who confirmed they have technicians in the territory and plan to rebuild and strengthen their infrastructure.

“We’re recovering from a disaster,” Mapp said, reminding residents that circumstances remain fluid as recovery efforts continue. “We’re all human beings and we’re making all of our best efforts.”