WAPA’s Public Information Officer Won’t Say What Percentage of St. Thomas and St. John Have Been Restored To Power Five Days After Hurricane Irma Struck
CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA)’s public information officer admitted today that restoring electricity to hard hit St. Thomas and St. John after Hurricane Irma’s passing has been “a challenge.”
All of St. Croix’s 10 feeders have been restored to “some level of power” five days after the passing of the Category 5 storm, WAPA spokesman Jean Greaux said on Monday.
But Greaux danced around the issue of exactly what percentage of St. Thomas and St. John have been restored to power … he said more field studies by WAPA must be completed first.
He said that St. Croix is approaching being “100 percent energized” but would not say if St. Thomas and St. John are closer to zero percent energized.
“We actually began around midday yesterday (Sunday) afternoon when we successfully got one of our units up online at the power plant and we quickly brought commercial power to both the Schneider Regional Medical Center and to the Cyril E. King Airport,” Greaux said. “They are now fully energized. And we are providing partial power on three feeders going east from the power plant towards the Jarvis School intersection in Polyberg that’s on the path to the hospital, Long Bay, the West Indian Company, Ltd, Lockhart Elementary School, Main Street and Back Street portions of them are up.”
Greaux said as he was driving to work this morning “I heard the question (over the radio) being asked about what the percentage of restoration is.”
“I don’t even want to begin to guess what that small number is,” Greaux said. “Basically, we’ve got I think a 12-megawatt unit and a 20-megawatt unit online at the power plant that’s more to stabilize the power plant than anything else to get us power in the plant so we can function there and get this restoration going the way it should.
“In terms of percentage of restoration, as I said it’s going to be some time before we even venture a guess. We’re going to continue to work and bring parts of these area’s feeders up as best as we can depending on the damage and the distribution system. You know it’s one thing to generate the power. It’s another thing to be able to send the power somewhere. And that’s going to be our challenge over the next couple of days, especially in the St. Thomas St. John district. We’re going to have the damage assessment teams back out again this morning they are going to continue their work that was started late last week in looking at the electrical distribution system. At this moment, I don’t have a percentage as to what was lost on the distribution system, we won’t know that until the assessment teams have completed their inspection from one end of the island to the next. The same thing is true for the island of St. John, where in some areas, the damage is more significant than it is here in St. Thomas.”
“Once we have our arms wrapped around this … the extent of the damage and we map out a course for restoration, we’re going to activate the St. Thomas emergency call center. We have had dispatchers, since the morning after the storm, on St. Thomas fielding calls for St. Croix, catching those isolated areas as we energize the feeders and we bring power to various parts of St. Croix. We’ve activated the call center for St. Croix (340) 773-0150 is the number to call for any person in communities that are seeing power restored and are reporting that they are still out of power. So that call center is active. It’s only for St. Croix at this point (340) 773-0150 or those with Internet access can email us at email@example.com. Once the damage assessment teams have completed their work, in the St. Thomas St. John district we’re going to activate the St. Thomas emergency call center to take those reports of the isolated service interruptions.”
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