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‘Power Restoration’ Is The Number One Priority For The Department of Defense … But What Is WAPA’s Number One Priority?

WASHINGTON — Power restoration remains the No. 1 priority in Hurricane Maria-ravaged Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, Defense Department spokesman Army Lt. Col Jamie Davis said Friday.

DoD is responding to the islands with about 11,400 active duty and National Guard service members, he said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is partnering with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the Energy Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to unite in repairing the fragile Puerto Rico power grid, Davis said.

Troops also are continuing response efforts in the U.S. territories to distribute power generators and commodities such as food and water. Work also is ongoing to expand the distribution network, supply medical support, perform route clearance, provide aviation support, provide planning support to FEMA and supporting the Corps’ repair of the Guajataca Dam in Puerto Rico.

Response to Recovery

DoD is supporting FEMA’s stabilization plan for transition from disaster response to recovery, the spokesman said.

As progress increases and improvements are made in ground lines of communication, FEMA and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico assess the needs for further federal support and explore contracting solutions to mitigate water shortfalls through contracted water trucks to augment existing municipality capabilities, he said. Some municipalities are reporting they have received enough assistance, while others are reporting they have not received enough. FEMA is adjusting distribution to meet the demand.

Progress Underway

— Of 67 hospitals, 65 are open — 45 on the power grid; 21 on generator power; and two with unknown status.

— 26.2 percent  of customers have electricity on the island.

— 75 percent of customers have drinking water, but boiling orders remain in effect. Thirty-nine of 51 wastewater treatment plants are operational.

— 87 percent of the population has cellular services available; 84 percent of gas stations are open and so are 119 schools.

— U.S. Northern Command continues to deliver food, water, sustainment and aviation support capabilities. Eleven U.S. Transportation Command flights with personnel, helicopters and a cargo loader are scheduled for delivery today.

— DoD’s providing 67 rotary-wing and five fixed-wing aircraft.

— Logistical base camps have been set up Aguadilla and Roosevelt Roads.

Medical Care

— The USNS Comfort is providing medical support operations and is transiting to San Juan to support Centro Medico; 196 patients have been seen since Oct. 5. The 14th Combat Support Hospital is fully operational and seeing patients in Humacao. The 633rd Expeditionary Medical Support hospital has attained initial operating capability in Aguadilla. The 285th Area Support Medical Company and 335th AMSC are operating in Ponce and Aguadilla. U.S. Transportation Command is postured to support patient movement to the continental United States with requests from FEMA and Health and Human Services.

— DoD completed 642 of 802 requested generator pre-installation inspections and has installed 280 units.

— Progress continues with persistent route clearance assessments and execution by U.S. Army Reserve engineers, Puerto Rico National Guard, and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit personnel.

— The 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command continues water production and distribution, and is focusing its distribution operations on the interior of Puerto Rico.

— Defense Logistics Agency efforts are centered on FEMA mass care, feeding support and Corps’ power missions.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the 575th Area Support Medical Company is fully operational and seeing patients in St. Croix, while the 602nd ASMC is seeing patients in St. Thomas.

WAPA said its restoration and reconstruction crews on St. Croix will work today in areas including: Queen Street, Golden Rock, Hannah’s Rest, Estates Whim, William’s Delight, Carlton and Frederiksted town.

On St. Thomas, crews will work on Crown Mountain Road toward Estates Pearl and Santa Maria, Frenchman’s Bay roadway, Donoe Road and Donoe Bypass and in Smith Bay near Lindqvist Beach.

Motorists are asked to drive carefully through the work areas and adhere to directions provided by flaggers, military police and VIPD officers who are assisting with traffic control.

HURRICANE RESTORATION UPDATE (FRIDAY)

ELECTRIC SYSTEM

• Electrical service was restored to portions of Cruz Bay, St. John on Friday afternoon following weeks of reconstruction of primary circuits in the downtown area. Service restoration extended from portions of Cruz Bay to just before the Myrah Keating Smith Health Center.

• Additional manpower, equipment and supplies arrived in the territory over the last two days to augment the restoration efforts. There are now more than 500 off- island linemen equally divided between both districts assisting WAPA line department personnel and on-island contractors with restoring service to our customers.

• On St. Thomas Friday, portions of Estate Altona, Lindbergh Bay and Fort Mylner were restored. Primary circuits were energized on a portion of Feeder 9D from the Nadir intersection to the Boschulte Middle School and from the same intersection toward WAPA’s east end electrical substation in Nazareth. Reconstruction crews completed work on primary circuits on Crown Mountain Road and will now reconstruct circuits through Estates Pearl and Santa Maria to Blackpoint Hill. Over the next few days, crews will also work on primary circuits extending north from the Crown and Hawk intersection to WGOD radio. On Saturday, crews will plant additional poles on Feeder 7A and 8A in the Subbase area and on Feeder 10B from Havensight through Estate Bakkeroe toward Bolongo Bay. Also on Saturday, crews will continue working on Donoe Road and in Smith Bay near Lindqvist Beach.

• On St. Croix, work has commenced on Feeder 4A where poles were planted and lines were strung in the Golden Rock area. Work continues to provide electrical service to the modular units at Luis Hospital. Additional poles and transformers were installed on Feeder 8B near Hannah’s Rest. Crews restored service to additional areas in downtown Christiansted on Feeder 1A including Queen and Prince Streets. Primary and secondary lines were secured on poles in Sunny Acres on Feeder 5A. Hotel on the Cay is slated to have service restored by this weekend or early next week.

• On Saturday, WAPA restoration and reconstruction crews on St. Croix will work in areas including: Queen Street, Golden Rock, Hannah’s Rest, Estates Whim, William’s Delight, Carlton and Frederiksted town. On St. Thomas, crews will work on: Crown Mountain Road toward Estates Pearl and Santa Maria, Frenchman’s Bay roadway, Donoe Road and Donoe Bypass and in Smith Bay near Lindqvist Beach. Motorists are asked to drive carefully through the work areas and adhere to directions provided by flaggers, military police and VIPD officers who are assisting with traffic control.

• WAPA reminds residents that it is necessary to shut off standby generators when line crews are in your neighborhood restoring electrical service. Standby generators have the potential to back feed electricity to the grid which poses a severe safety risk to restoration crews.

• WAPA personnel has 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.

POTABLE WATER SYSTEM

• WAPA reminds the public that a precautionary boil water notice for potable water customers is in place territory-wide. Due to a drop in water pressure, as a precaution, we advise that all water used for drinking, cooking, making infant formula or juices, making ice, brushing teeth, washing fruits or vegetables and washing dishes, be boiled. Bringing water to a rolling boil and maintaining for one full minute is sufficient. Water must be adequately cooled before it can be used and should be stored in clean, covered containers. As an alternative, bottled water certified for sale by the Department of Health may be used.

• There are nine days of emergency water storage on St. John, ten days on St. Thomas and five days on St. Croix. In both districts, all potable water systems are operating normally.

• WAPA urges clean-up contractors and homeowners in both districts 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.

HURRICANE RESTORATION UPDATE (THURSDAY)

ELECTRIC SYSTEM

• Additional equipment and supplies arrived on St. Thomas Thursday, ahead of 250 linemen and engineers who are expected in the territory on Friday. Service trucks, digger derricks, trailers and other equipment were offloaded at the WICO dock before the supply vessel headed to St. Croix with equipment and supplies for the restoration effort there.

• Reconstruction and restoration work continued in both districts by WAPA line department crews as well as by on and off-island contractors. On St. Croix, on Feeder 4A, crews planted poles along the feeder path while additional customers were restored in Christiansted on Feeder 1A. In Hannah’s Rest, crews continued the reconstruction of primary circuits and will string lines and install transformers on Friday. Additional poles were planted as efforts continue to energize the modular units at Luis Hospital. Poles were planted and lines were installed along Feeder 5A in Estate Strawberry and in Frederiksted, contractors planted additional poles while other crews framed poles on Good Hope Road.

• On St. Thomas, crews continued work on Feeder 6A from Blackpoint Hill toward Fortuna planting poles and installing primary circuits. Work is progressing steadily in areas including Estates Santa Maria, Pearl and from Clearview Apartments to near the Crown & Hawk intersection. There was also work completed on the buildout of Feeders 7A and 8A from the Harley power plant. Crews restored service to customers in Estate Tutu while other crews reconstructed circuits on Donoe road and in Red Hook toward Smith Bay. Additional customers in Lindbergh Bay had service restored as well as residents in Altona, Mahogany Estate and Agnes Fancy.

• On St. John, the submarine cable has been energized to the electrical substation with efforts continuing to energize portions of Cruz Bay this week.

• On Friday, WAPA crews will continue restoration work in the following areas of St. Croix: Estates William’s Delight, Whim and Carlton, as well as in the downtown Christiansted area. On St. Thomas, crews will work in areas including the Subbase roadway near Bryan’s Electric, Donoe Road, Nadir bridge intersection, Tabor and Harmony roadway from the Mandahl to Hidden Valley intersections, the Crown and Hawk intersection to Estate Pearl, Lindbergh Bay, and on the Smith Bay road. Motorists are urged to follow the directions of roadside flaggers, military police and VIPD officers who are assisting with traffic control.

• WAPA reminds residents that it is necessary to shut off standby generators when line crews are in your neighborhood restoring electrical service. Standby generators have the potential to back feed electricity to the grid which poses a severe safety risk to restoration crews.

• WAPA personnel has 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.

POTABLE WATER SYSTEM

• WAPA reminds the public that a precautionary boil water notice for potable water customers is in place territory-wide. Due to a drop in water pressure, as a precaution, we advise that all water used for drinking, cooking, making infant formula or juices, making ice, brushing teeth, washing fruits or vegetables and washing dishes, be boiled. Bringing water to a rolling boil and maintaining for one full minute is sufficient. Water must be adequately cooled before it can be used and should be stored in clean, covered containers. As an alternative, bottled water certified for sale by the Department of Health may be used.

• There are seven days of emergency water storage on St. John, ten days on St. Thomas and five days on St. Croix.

• WAPA urges clean-up contractors and homeowners in both districts 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.

 

OTHER INFORMATION

• Emergency Call Centers operate 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., seven days a week.
St. Thomas – St. John district, 340-774-1424; St. Croix district, 340-773-0150

• WAPA telephone contact: St. Thomas – St. John district, 340-774-3552; St. Croix district, 340-773-2250

• Customer Service Offices operate Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Sunny Isle on St. Croix and at Port of Sale Mall on St. Thomas

• WAPA website: www.viwapa.vi

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands since 1989. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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