Important Notice, September 2017: Hurricanes Irma and Maria have caused widespread damage in the U.S. Virgin Islands. We look forward to welcoming you back to our islands as soon as we can. Please follow the islands’ rebuilding and recovery on our VInow.com Recovery Blog.
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St. John Community Foundation

November 6, 2017 – It is hard to believe that it has only been two months since two devastating category 5 hurricanes hit our small island paradise. While life on island is challenging there are increasing “windows of wonderful.” Yes, many trees that held on are getting their leaves back and the random burst of flaming red from a surviving flamboyant tree makes you want to cheer. A few resilient business owners have enabled us to have a good meal and welcomed opportunities to interact. Seeing the kids back in their school uniforms going to and from school, even if on limited split schedules, provides some semblance of normalcy. The hardworking selflessness of skilled healthcare professionals, electrical linemen, road clearing and debris removal workers, military and public safety service men and women who have come from all over the mainland states have united us on so many levels.

However, I won’t sugar coat things. There are still massive amounts of downed electrical wires, storm debris and rocky mud slides making the roads hard to traverse. Residents are still picking treasured keepsakes from piles of rubble that they once called home. There is power in some parts of town now, but many homes and businesses cannot be connected because of extraneous damage to the parts needed to link into it, and power to other parts of the island will take months. Jobs and accommodations for visitors have been lost at the Westin for over year, and at Caneel for over two years. Our clinic has been condemned; health and human services are limited. Beaches have to be tested after each rain to determine if they are safe as storm runoff, and water treatment plant challenges pose contamination threats…but as mentioned, there are a multitude of silver linings as we rebuild our island paradise.

So far The St. John Community Foundation has earmarked over $200,000 in unrestricted grants to local organizations, including Gifft Hill School and the Christian Academy who surmounted huge hurdles to open their doors to the St. John youth early in this response phase. Funding has been provided to support organizations such as Island Health and Wellness, Island Green Living, St. John School of the Arts, the Animal Care Center and Dana’s Carolina Coral, The St. John Revolving Fund, Love City Pan Dragons, Coral Bay Community Council who are all directly responding to post hurricane needs, and more are in the pike. We have facilitated funds for Kenny Chesney’s Love For Love City initiatives and written checks to cover well over a million dollars of expenses such as medical supplies, meals, generators, evacuation fight fees and fuel, debris removal, and construction costs as rebuilding homes and businesses is underway.

VOLUNTEERS: While we are grateful for the generous offers of hands-on help, at the moment, Virgin Islands Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, Department of Defense, Army Corps of Engineers, Red Cross, and other national and local disaster response groups on island have a handle on immediate needs. When we say this response effort will take months and even years, and that you will be contacted once public officials and disaster relief organizations have had an opportunity to assess and identify specific unmet needs, please believe us! We respectfully ask that you do not self deploy. Local residents are desperate for work, neighbors are helping neighbors, and we WILL get to the point of being able to organize work projects for volunteers. We are just not there yet.

DONATIONS: While we appreciate the multitude of individual and group initiatives sending supplies, most island non-profits have exhausted their means of receiving, sorting, distributing and storing donations of mixed items and are asking people who want to help to instead consider financial support to one of the many organizations on the ground providing relief efforts. While Donations of supplies have been welcomed, monetary donations will enable us to address unmet needs in specific and direct ways.

You can make your donation to the St. John Community Foundation at http://thestjohnfoundation.org/donate We can direct your donation to any St. John non-profit or you can find links to other organizations at http://thestjohnfoundation.org/…/nonprofit-organization-dir…. Consider contacting them directly for their specific needs.

The St. John Community Foundation is honored to be part of the massive and united effort underway to help island communities and survivors put their lives back together and are working closely with Love City Strong, Kenny Chesney’s Love for Love City, Bloomberg USVI Recovery, St John Rescue and Help.NGO’s Global Disaster Immediate Response Team, Virgin Islands Relief Fund, and Coral Bay Community Council, who are all worthy recipients of your support.

Thank you – two small words packed with sincere & power-filled gratitude

November 5, 2017 – This update is brought to St. Johnians by Love City Strong (LCS), The St. John Community Foundation, Coral Bay Community Council, St John Rescue, Virgin Islands Relief Fund,
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD)(VOAD), Kenny Chesney’s Love for Love City, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Bloomberg USVI Recovery, and Help.NGO’s Global Disaster Immediate Response Team.

Curfew has been lifted territory-wide as of Oct. 30!

+Town Hall meeting! A public forum on debris removal will be held at 2:30p tomorrow, Monday, Nov. 6 at the Legislature Annex building in Cruz Bay.

+Food benefits are available! The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will provide 2 months of funds for disaster survivors. To apply, bring ID to the DHS office across from the Cruz Bay Fire Station 7a-6p Mon., 11/6 thru Wed., 11/15. (the office will be closed Nov. 10-12).

+Meal @ midday! Freshwater Church is serving free lunch at The Fish Trap 12p-1p daily. All are welcome.

+Disaster Recovery Centers are FEMA assistance centers for renters, homeowners, and small business owners. The DRCs are also where to sign up for Operation Blue Roof. The DRC in Cruz Bay is at the Legislative Annex building and the Coral Bay DRC is in the Community Council building, both are open 8a-5p Mon.-Fri.

+Cruise ships arrive! According to the Department of Tourism (DOT), more than 25 cruise ship calls are scheduled for St. Thomas in November to boost economic activity, generate employment and stimulate recovery efforts.

+Mail service expands! Officials indicated that Sunday operations in post offices throughout the Caribbean will continue for the foreseeable future. Ramped up delivery activities are supported by additional gains made in postal operations this week, including expedited hiring, training, and orientation of more than 400 temporary employees to support mail processing and delivery.

+The LCS Donation Station is open! Stop by the shop next to Dog House Pub in Cruz Bay 9a-12p Mon.-Fri. for retail therapy! Free clothing and shoes are available to all. Donations may be dropped off 12p-2p.

+Power returns! For the safety of restoration crews, WAPA advises residents to shut off standby generators when line crews are restoring electricity nearby. Report all electricity issues such as service interruptions and damaged or down equipment, poles or wires to the Emergency Call Center 9a-5p daily at (340) 774-1424.
WAPA crews removed electrical meters at locations where damage was apparent to either an electrical meter base and/or weather head. Home and business owners are advised to make repairs to their damaged weather heads and/or meter bases as soon as possible. Once crews have reached your neighborhood, those customers who have not had their weather head or meter base repaired, will not have service immediately restored. Additionally, customers and electricians are reminded that it is against the law to remove or otherwise destroy meter seals. If work needs to be done to repair a damaged meter base and/or weather head, contact WAPA’s Emergency Call Center, which operates 7 days/week.

+Prescription assistance is here! The Emergency Prescription Assistance Program pays for prescription medications for disaster survivors. For now, St. Johnians will go to St. Thomas to receive benefits. Uninsured residents can call Express Scripts at 855-793-7470 or visit http://www.phe.gov/Prepared…/planning/…/Pages/formulary.aspx to learn if their medication or specific durable medical equipment is covered. Visit https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/psa/index.html for post-storm health tips.

+Car barge service runs daily, with a variable number of trips. Check in at the barge for the daily schedule. The passenger ferry service to Red Hook is leaving Cruz Bay every hour on the hour beginning 6a and ending 5p. The return ferry leaves Red Hook at 6:30a, 7:30a, 8a, and every hour on the hour thereafter with the last departure at 5:30p.

+A FREE east-west shuttle is in service. Two safari taxis run concurrently from the Cruz Bay passenger ferry dock and the Coral Bay Fire Station. The shuttle schedule is: 7:30a, 8a, 9a, 10a, 3p, 4p, 5p, and 5:30p. The first and last shuttle trips will be traveling from/to Calabash Boom in Coral Bay.

+Unemployment insurance is available! The USVI Department of Labor is open 9:30a-1:30p Mon/Wed/Fri at the Legislature Annex building. All unemployment questions should be directed to the Department of Labor. To receive service, bring your ID and Social Security Card. Check claim status by phone at (340) 713-3410.

+Clinic service: MKS has moved to the DeCastro Building in Cruz Bay. Clinical services, support, and supplies are being offered from the DeCastro clinic (where you get your health card) and the Coral Bay Fire Station.

+Help is a phone call away! The Disaster Distress helpline is available at 1-800-985-5990 for immediate crisis counseling. Free disaster-related legal service is available! Call the US Virgin Islands Disaster Legal Hotline at 800-310-7029.

+Businesses are open with more every day! Chelsea Drug, the health clinic at the Marketplace, St. John Physical Therapy, Canines Cats and Critters, The ACC, St. John Insurance, Tunick Insurance, St. John Properties, Connections, Cruz Bay Post Office, Postnet, Big Planet, St. John Hardware, Paradise Lumber, First Bank, Scotia Bank ATM in Cruz Bay, Merchant Bank, St. John Ice, Starfish Market, Dolphin Market, St. John Market, Pine Peace Market, E&C Service Station, Race Track Station, Caravan Auto, St. John Auto Repair, Moses Laundry, Steve Simonson Photo, Bamboula, Cruz Salon, Papaya Café, Sun Dog Cafe, Chester’s Getaway, Hercules, Sam and Jack’s Deli, the Lime Inn, Uncle Joe’s BBQ, Dog House Pub, Cruz Bay Landing, 420 to Center, Extra Virgin, Rhumb Lines, Banana Deck, Fish Trap, La Tapa, The Terrace, Island Cork, Wok on the Beach, Oasis, Calabash Market, Thirsty Donkey, and Love City Market in Coral Bay are operational.
Virgin Islands Relief Fund and supportive volunteers are making progress rebuilding Pickles and Indigo Grill in Coral Bay. Their mission includes focusing on building a sustainable infrastructure for the future. They are also playing a big role in supply distribution. Thanks, VI Releif!

+Connections has started an in-office version of the St. John Revolving Fund, providing interest-free loans for St. Johnians. Donations are tax-deductible and donors may identify an individual or group they would like to help. Cash and personal checks are accepted.

+WiFi hotspots in town are near Ronnie’s Pizza, Connections, between the BMV building and the tennis court, and on the 3rd floor of the Marketplace. To prevent slow WiFi speed, please disable automatic app updates.
Look for VINGN-FreePublic or DIRT-FreePublic. No passwords are needed.

+The Sprauve school is open! Classes are in session for grades K-5 8a-11a, and 11:30a-4p for grades 6-8. A celebration for all students on island is planned for November 3 at the Sprauve ballfield.
Gifft Hill School is in session from 10a-2p Mon.-Fri. Registration for students is open to all! Anyone can come with their child to register for classes from 8:30a-9:30a. Fees are deferred until further notice. Volunteers are needed for student translators, carpooling, and cleaning.

St. John School of the Arts is open! They are offering free on-site and after school programs. Contact Jenna Fox at info@stjohnschoolofthearts.org or 340-228-2511.

+Love City Pan Dragons has free classes for all! Ages 8–Adult and all experience levels are welcome 2:45p-5p on Fridays and/or 12p-3p on Saturdays between Human Services and the Sports and Rec Building across from the Fire Station in Cruz Bay.

+DPW is now removing storm debris from public roads. Move all storm related debris within 10 feet of the roadside and sort by debris type. Appliances, electronics, vegetation, and roofing/construction materials must all be separated. Do not obstruct the roads with debris.

+All Caribbean parks remain closed by the National Park Service (NPS) until further notice to ease the strain on beach, trail and road cleanup by minimizing foot traffic.
Swim at your own risk! The Surfrider Foundation and Love City Strong (LCS) independently tested beach water quality at 14 beaches and found unsafe levels of E. Coli at Maho Bay Beach (at the pavilion side), Cruz Bay and Great Cruz Bay. Jumbie Beach and Maho Bay Beach (at the parking lot side) also presented medium risk. Detailed results can be seen at https://goo.gl/SKK9ey. Other hazards at St. John beaches include debris from boats, buildings and trees. LCS will continue water quality testing and NPS/DPNR will make official statements regarding water safety. NPS is enforcing beach rules; dogs must be leashed, and glass bottles are prohibited within National Park beaches.

+Attention, property owners! If you own a multi-family dwelling that needs repairs and are willing to lease to eligible FEMA hurricane survivors, then you may be interested in the Multi-Family Lease and Repair Program (MLRP), which provides funds to make rental units habitable again and helps displaced residents at the same time. Contact FEMA-USVI-MLR@fema.dhs.gov.

+Attention, boat owners! Dec. 1 is the deadline to notify the Coast Guard of vessel salvage/removal intentions. Call the Vessel Owner Notification Hotline at (340) 423-6353 or email caribbean_recovery@nps.gov. Provide registration, owner information, vessel location, date of removal, salvage contractor, & DPNR/Coast Guard decal target number (for marked vessels). DPNR is working with FEMA to provide assistance for those needing help with vessel removal.

+The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) continues sign-ups for FREE tarp/roofing installation until Fri., Nov. 23. Residents may sign up 8a-5p at the Legislative Annex building in Cruz Bay or the DRC at the Community Council in Coral Bay. Bring a photo ID, a property tax bill, and, if possible, a photo of the damaged roof. Visit www.sad.usace.army.mil/Blueroof or call 888-ROOF-BLU.

+Apply for FEMA assistance by Dec. 18! Visit www.disasterassistance.gov, call 800-621-FEMA, or sign up 8a-5p at the DRC at the Legislative Annex building in Cruz Bay or the DRC at the Community Council in Coral Bay. Visit FEMA U.S. Virgin Islands, to learn about programs offered.

FEMA’s SBA program is also at the DRCs to help businesses impacted and offers low-interest, long-term disaster loans for physical damage and working capital. Information on the disaster loan program may be obtained by calling SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an email todisastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Loan applications can be downloaded fromwww.sba.gov/disaster. Completed applications should be returned to a recovery center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The filing deadline to submit applications for physical property damage is Dec. 18, 2017 for Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The deadline for economic injury applications is June 7, 2018 for Hurricane Irma and June 20, 2018 for Hurricane Maria.

+$41 million in Public Assistance grants reflect our commitment to the recovery effort across the Virgin Islands,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer William Vogel. “We strongly support the territorial government’s priorities of caring for survivors, getting lights turned on throughout the islands and clearing roadways of debris for everyone’s health and safety.” There are over 500 line workers in the territory; and a multitude of FEMA, emergency disaster workers and volunteers; military personnel and insurance adjusters now living with us in the community.

+Senator Millin Young said it is time to start thinking about building a robust economy and called for the repeal of the sin tax bill. “I opposed this tax increase in the beginning, and today, I oppose them again for their negative impact on our economy. We will not recover with more taxes on our businesses. Our businesses need tax relief to jumpstart our economy,” she said.
Additionally, the senator called for property tax Bill No. 32-0030, which seeks to provide relief to property owners who are assessed exorbitant taxes, to be forwarded to the full Senate. “This bill will be impactful for the territory’s residents, especially St. Johnians who pay the most property taxes and get the least government services,” Ms. Millin, who sponsored the legislation, said. “This inequity was shown to us all by the way the central government failed to serve St. Johnians after Hurricane Irma hit.”
On the infrastructure side, the senator has reached out to Tesla and its SolarCity subsidiary to come up with temporary and perhaps long-term solutions to provide energy services to the U.S. Virgin Islands. “As policymakers, we need to identify what is needed to attract such development to our shores,” Ms. Millin Young said.

October 26, 2017 – This update is brought to St. Johnians by Love City Strong, The St. John Community Foundation, Coral Bay Community Council, St John Rescue, Virgin Islands Relief Fund, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), Kenny Chesney’s Love for Love City Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Help.NGO’s DIRT.

Curfew update: 11p-5a until November 2.

+Party in the park! The public is invited to a community party in

Powell Park across from the passenger ferry dock this Sunday, October 29, 4p-8p. Musical entertainment will be provided by Cool Sessions. All are welcome.

+Disaster Recovery Centers are opening! The DRCs are one-stop shops for Disaster Survivor Assistance registration with FEMA, the SBA Program, and Operation Blue Roof. The DRC in Cruz Bay is open 8a-5p at the Legislative Annex building. The DRC at the Coral Bay Community Council is also opening.

+The LCS Donation Station is open! Stop by the shop next to Dog House Pub and across from The Longboard in Cruz Bay 9a-2p for retail therapy! Free clothing and shoes are available to all. Donated items may be dropped off 1p-3p. Love City Strong asks potential Stateside donors to please be patient and to hold on to their contributions for now. Fortunately, an abundance of clothes for all ages and sizes is in storage, and more time is needed to get through the existing donations.

+Love City Pan Dragons has free classes for all! Ages 8–Adult and all experience levels are welcome 2:45p-5p on Fridays and/or 12p-3p on Saturdays between the Rec Center and the Parks and Rec Building across from the Fire Station in Cruz Bay.

+Car barge service currently runs daily, with a variable number of trips. Please ask someone at the barge for the schedule as it is subject to change daily. The passenger ferry service to Red Hook is leaving Cruz Bay every hour on the hour beginning 6a and ending 5p. The return ferry leaves Red Hook at 5:30a, 6:30a, 7:30a, 8a, and every hour on the hour thereafter with the last departure at 5:30p.

+A FREE east-west shuttle is in service. Two safari taxis run concurrently from Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. Shuttle service pick up/drop off points are the Cruz Bay passenger ferry dock and the Coral Bay Fire Station. The shuttle schedule is: 7:30a, 8a, 9a, 10a, 3p, 4p, 5p, and 5:30p. The first and last shuttle trips will be traveling from/to Calabash Boom in Coral Bay.

+The USVI Department of Labor is open 10a-3p, Mon/Wed/Fri at the Legislature Annex building.

All unemployment questions should be directed to the Department of Labor. To receive service, bring your ID and Social Security Card.

+The clinic at MKS has been moved to the DeCastro Building in Cruz Bay. Clinical services, support, and supplies are being offered from the DeCastro clinic (where you get your health card) and at the Fire Station in Coral Bay. Immunizations are being offered 10a-2p on Thursday, November 2 at the DeCastro clinic.

+Businesses are open with more every day! Chelsea Drug (9a-2p), the health clinic at the Marketplace, St. John Physical Therapy (1p-4p Mon. & Fri.), Canines Cats & Critters, The ACC, St. John Insurance, Tunick Insurance, St. John Properties, Connections, Cruz Bay Post Office (9a-4p Mon.-Fri. & 9a-2p Sat.), Postnet, Big Planet (12p-5p), St. John Hardware, Paradise Lumber, First Bank (9:30a-1p), Scotia Bank ATM in Cruz Bay, Merchant Bank (9a-2p), St. John Ice, Starfish Market (9a-4p Mon.-Fri. & 9a-2p Sat.-Sun.), Dolphin Market, St. John Market, Pine Peace Market, E&C Service Station (7a-4p), Race Track Station, Caravan Auto (9a-2p), St. John Auto Repair, Steve Simonson Photo, Bamboula (10:30a-3p Mon.-Sat.), Cruz Salon (Tues.-Sat. 10a-6p), Papaya Cafe & Bookstore St. John (9a-2p),

Sun Dog Cafe, St. John VI, Chester’s Getaway, Hercules, Sam & Jack’s Deli, Lime Inn Restaurant , Uncle Joe’s BBQ, Dog House Pub St. John, Cruz Bay Landing, 420 to Center (12p-6:30p), Extra Virgin, Wok on the Beach Restaurant (7a-5p in the old Voyages building), Indigo Grill, Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis (11a-5p), Calabash Market, The Thirsty Donkey (2p-5p), Pizzabar in paradise, and Love City Market in Coral Bay are operational.

+Connections St. John has started an in-office version of the St. John Revolving Fund, providing interest-free loans for St. Johnians. Donations are tax-deductible and donors may identify an individual or group they would like to help. Cash and personal checks are accepted.

+WiFi hotspots in town are near Ronnie’s Pizza, Connections, between the BMV building and the tennis court, and on the 3rd floor of the Marketplace. To prevent slow WiFi speed, please disable automatic app updates.

For Apple users: Open up your settings, select iTunes & App Stores, and disable the Updates slider.

For Android users: Open the Google Play Store (or Market, if you’re using an old version of Android), open the extended menu on the top left (3 lines), scroll to the bottom to Settings, and disable Auto-update Apps.

Look for VINGN-FreePublic or DIRT-FreePublic. No passwords are needed.

+The Julius E Sprauve School is open! Classes are in session for grades K-5 8a-11a, and 11:30a-4p for grades 6-8. A celebration for all students on island is planned for November 3 at the Sprauve ballfield and Mongoose Junction will hold its annual trick-or-treat on Halloween Day at 3p.

+Gifft Hill School is in session from 10a-2p Mon.-Fri. Registration for students is open to all! Anyone can come with their child to register for classes from 8:30a-9:30a. Fees are deferred until further notice. Volunteers are needed for student translators, carpooling, cleaning, and more. Head to the School for more information.

+St. John School of the Arts will be finished with repairs tomorrow! They will be offering free on-site and after school programs starting the 1st week of November. For details, contact Jenna Fox at info@stjohnschoolofthearts.org or 340-228-2511.

+Please report a landslide or debris on our roads to the Department of Public Works (DPW) or the National Park Service ASAP. DPW is now removing storm debris from public roads. Move all storm related debris within 10 feet of the roadside and sort by debris type. Appliances, electronics, vegetation, and roofing/construction materials must all be separated. Do not obstruct the roads with debris. Please minimize vehicle traffic by carpooling or using the shuttle.

+All Caribbean parks will remain closed by the National Park Service until further notice to ease the strain on beach, trail and road cleanup by minimizing foot traffic in those areas.

+For owners salvaging their vessels and for questions regarding the salvage/removal of displaced vessels, contact the Vessel Owner Notification Hotline at (340) 423-6353 or USVIDPNR@gmail.com. Provide registration, owner information, vessel location, date of removal, salvage contractor, & DPNR/Coast Guard decal target number (for marked vessels). DPNR is working with FEMA to provide assistance for those needing help with vessel removal. Dec. 1 is the deadline for boat owners to notify the Coast Guard of their vessel salvage/removal intentions.

+The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) continues sign-ups for FREE tarp/roofing installation thru Friday, Nov. 3. Residents may sign up 8:30a-3p Mon/Wed/Fri at the Legislature Annex building in Cruz Bay or the Fire Station in Coral Bay. Bring a photo ID, a property tax bill, and if possible, a photo of the damaged roof. Visit www.sad.usace.army.mil/Blueroof or call 888-ROOF-BLU.

+Apply for FEMA assistance NOW! You may head to

www.disasterassistance.gov, call 800-621-FEMA, or sign up at the 8a-5p at the DRC at the Legislative Annex building in Cruz Bay or the Fire Station in Coral Bay. Remember to keep your contact details, banking, and insurance information updated with FEMA after you register.

Be alert for false rumors, identity theft, and scams, including impersonation of FEMA or USACE personnel. Visit FEMA’s Hurricane Rumor Control page at https://www.fema.gov/…/updates/hurricane-maria-rumor-control.

Visit FEMA U.S. Virgin Islands to learn about the various FEMA programs/services offered.

October 22, 2017 – SJCF-VOAD Recovery Update Part 2: Time Sensitive and Essential Services Updates:

Final days to APPLY for FEMA JOBS this Monday and Tuesday Only! The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is looking to hire dozens of U.S. Virgin Islanders as temporary employees to help with the territory’s recovery They are seeking a variety of skilled workers, including administrative assistants, communications specialists, couriers, facilities workers and workers in other specialties. Temporary local hires may be employed for 120-day terms, which may be extended up to one year maximum. Virgin Island workers will bring critical knowledge and skills to the ongoing recovery and restoration efforts in their communities. Hiring locally allows disaster survivors to get back to work while supporting the long-term recovery effort and helping the territory return to normal.

Residents interested in working for FEMA may email their resume to fema-workforce-caribbean@fema.dhs.gov or they may drop off resumes in-person at the Cruz Bay Legislature Monday and Tuesday. If you do not have a resume, they will have applications you can fill out on site. FEMA Human Relations personnel will contact applicants by phone and email to schedule interviews by October 26th. Visit FEMA’s U.S. Virgin Islands Facebook page  www.Facebook.com/FEMAUSVirginIslands.comfor updated information about the local hire process.

BOAT OWNERS: For owners salvaging their vessels or for other questions regarding the salvage/removal of vessels displaced by recent hurricanes, please call the Vessel Owner Notification Hotline at (340) 423-6353 or email USVIDPNR@gmail.com and provide vessel registration, owner information, vessel location, date of removal, salvage contractor, and DPNR/Coast Guard decal target number (if your vessel was marked).

The U.S. Coast Guard is here and working with NOAA, EPA and DPNR. There are 50 people working in St. Thomas covering all 3 islands. Teams are assessing the number of stranded boats and labeling them with visible stickers to identify them as debris to be removed. There is a deadline of 180 days to complete this process of 400-500 boats to be removed. About 230 boats have been tagged so far with more to go.

There is no ability for FEMA funds to be used to clean federal land, which applies to boats stranded on park property. Until this is resolved in Washington, DC, there is no current plan to remove boats on park land. This is being addressed and there will be an answer at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later.

If a boat is abandoned and there has been no word from the owner despite a 30 day notice period and diligent attempts to reach the owner, the owner will NOT be charged for removal. It is important that every boat owner reach out to the Coast Guard. Telling the Coast Guard your intention is to save your boat stops the 30-day notice period. If the intention is to salvage the boat, the process is to turn the title over to the VI Government. A website will be made available with more and developing information. Please keep in touch with the Coast Guard and let them know how they can help.

TRANSPORTATION: (all schedules subject to change daily without notice – check with operators). Be safe on the roads and yield to all work crews. Carpool and take the shuttle as possible to reduce vehicle traffic. Road crews have the right of way and take priority to clear debris and restore our power as soon as possible.

  • The curfew is officially from7pm to 5am
  • Passenger ferry: Hourly from Cruz Bay6-10AM, then 12, 3,5 and 6PM daily
  • Car barge – Expect delays of container & supply trucks; check with operators
  • Free rides between Coral/Cruz Bay8am-5pmhas been providing up to 200 rides/day. They are also carpooling school students. Thanks Team Bloomberg!
  • Airport on STT, STX and P’Rico are open, call individual airlines for schedules

POWER SYSTEM: Divers assessed WAPA’s submarine cables and anticipate restoration service to portions of Cruz Bay, including the Julius Sprauve School by the middle of next week. WAPA crews along with on-island and more than 510 off-island contractors are working across the territory in support of the reconstruction and restoration efforts to meet its goal of having 90 percent of the territory’s power restored by Christmas. USACE is assessing the territory’s entire power generation system, including looking into the cost of burying lines, for a more resilient power production and distribution system.

MAKE REPAIRS to your damaged weather heads and/or meter bases as soon as possible! If either of these are damaged, WAPA will not reinstall meters until repairs are made and certified by a licensed electrician. Home and business owners are advised to make repairs to their damaged weather heads and/or meter bases as soon as possible. Once crews have reached your neighborhood, those customers who have not had their weather head or meter base repaired, will not have service immediately restored.

POTABLE WATER SYSTEM: WAPA’s boil water advisory remains in effect for potable water across the territory. Don’t use water straight from the tap to drink, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, make ice, or prepare baby formula. Repairs are pending at the Cruz Bay pump station. Until these repairs are completed, the town of Cruz Bay is being provided potable water service from St. Thomas. WAPA reminds clean-up contractors and homeowners to exercise caution when piling debris on and around potable water meters. There are a growing number of instances where water meters are being damaged by clean-up equipment grading debris and causing damage to the roadside water meters. The continued damage by heavy equipment poses difficulty in maintaining or restoring potable water service to customers.

DEBRIS REMOVAL from roadways and neighborhoods has resulted in supermarkets, gas stations and other stores restocking their shelves and reopening for business. Federal, territorial, local and private sector partners have worked around the clock to help restore functionality to the islands’ supply chain that was severely disrupted by port closures and the debris-littered roadways. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is on the ground, working with the territorial government on debris clearance and on management strategies to clear the piles of debris. The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) continues to work jointly with the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority and the Department of Public Works and contactors from CERES on a clean-up initiative across the territory.

Mandatory separation of household waste is in effect (the only trash that is allowed in the bins for now). Put storm related construction and landscape debris off to the side of main roads up to 10 feet back. Crews are already out there picking it up! Timing is random and they will be making several passes so get it out there ASAP

Harith Wickrema of Island Green Living Association, says that leaders of the USVI government should be applauded for their commitment to chipping the massive amount of tree and plant debris from the storms, and providing for the composting of this material (pure untreated natural green and brown trees and clippings). Chipping and composting will eventually create an important by-product (compost) that can be used to enhance the soil on the islands.

ANIMAL EVACUATION: Canines, Cats, and Critters, and the Animal Care Center are working with an animal welfare organizations to perform another animal evacuation.

COMMUNICATIONS: “COWS” (Cell on Wheels) are being installed on Boardeaux, which will significantly enhance cellular coverage. St. John Rescue has been working with Help.NGO’s Global DIRT team to bring more cellular service to the island; Thanks to partners at Vanu Inc. whose technology is making this happen. ATT & Sprint have service hotspots and improvements continue.

Viya has been working alongside WAPA to restore service to its thousands of customers who went offline following the storms, and is launching an internet MiFi service — which is a wireless router that serves as a mobile hotspot that will enable residents to stream the web and, according to Viya CEO Alvaro Pilar, watch movies on Netflix and enjoy other services. The MiFi device will be given to current customers free of charge, while new signups will have to pay a fee for the box. Once the MiFi device is in service, current Viya customers will pay a monthly bill that matches what they were paying before Hurricane Maria struck, and newcomers will be given an opportunity to choose their plans. Those with Viya mobile phone service are also expected to see vast improvements once the LTE network is launched, Mr. Alvaro said. The company plans to install in total 40 towers territory-wide, half of which have already been erected. Because Viya’s lines are on WAPA poles, regular service would be restored to customers along with WAPA’s own restoration work (WAPA expects to power 90 percent of the USVI by Christmas).

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY: Senator Janette Millin Young said her office has been in communication with Tesla and its SolarCity subsidiary, to come up with temporary and perhaps long-term solutions to provide energy services to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Scientists and energy experts have said that a distributed grid that is not reliant on a single power plant for energy generation could help vulnerable island regions like the Caribbean withstand powerful storms like Hurricanes Irma or Maria. “When we are facing the sort of infrastructure destruction we have seen this hurricane season, it only makes sense to give some pause before reinvesting in the exact same system that proved to vulnerable,” Gwen Holdmann, who directs the Alaska Center for Energy and Power at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

Source: Celia Kalousek, Executive Director of St. John Community Foundation

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