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LET THEM LIVE ON THE BEACH! Mapp Hails Opening of Magens Bay on St. Thomas As A ‘Great, Great Sign of Progress’

CHRISTIANSTED — Gov. Kenneth Mapp described the official opening and dedication of Magens Bay on St. Thomas this Thursday, December 7 with Royal Caribbean International as a “great, great sign of progress.”

Addressing reporters at Government House on St. Croix on Monday, the governor thanked the cruise company for being so invested in the restoration of the iconic attraction and extended thanks to Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty and her team for their work to reopen Magens Bay.

Mapp anticipates the 65th anniversary of the Crucian Christmas Festival will be a “robust” one. The village will be on St. Croix around December 17 for three weeks.

The governor said a number of organizations, including some in the private sector, are working with the government to put together a Crucian Christmas Festival night on each island. He encouraged residents to use the Festival to shed their worries: “It’s for everyone to come out and just simply relax … get in some spirit of stress release.”

As the Virgin Islands recovery continues, Mapp said the territory will demonstrate that the working relationship between the local and the federal governments is very productive in managing the response to natural disasters.

However, he also acknowledged that many residents are still in need after the devastation left by the hurricanes and thanked his as well as the entire FEMA team for their support of the Virgin Islands’ recovery efforts. He told residents: “This is going to be a long process, but we can demonstrate by the evidence and the data … that every day is better than the day before and that we are making progress.”

The governor said that the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) continues to make headway in restoring power across the Virgin Islands, including the restoration of street lights on main thoroughfares.

There are currently 711 linemen from outside the territory supporting WAPA. An additional group of 100 linemen are expected to arrive within the week, he said.

Mapp has instituted a weekly meeting at Government House with the leadership of WAPA, the Department of Public Works (DPW), the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (VIWMA), the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), and consultants working with WAPA.

“These meetings will help to ensure the goals of all agencies are aligned,” he said.

The Department of Property and Procurement will begin repairs to Route 40 on St. Thomas and St. John on December 14. The Scott Free Road Phase One/Bridge Replacement (Access Route 405) and the Crown Bay Road (Route 33 and 304) Pedestrian and Drainage Improvement projects will commence on December 18.

Residents were again encouraged to exercise caution on the roadways and to pay attention to the many potholes which can cause damage.

The governor assured residents that the roads in the territory will be repaired, however rains and limited resources have been affecting the progress. He emphasized that patching the roadways is not a permanent solution.

The governor said that $120 million of the territory’s $7.5 billion request to Congress included was identified for damage to the road systems throughout the Virgin Islands.

The Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) has advised that mold remediation is coming to an end at the Cyril E. King International Airport on St. Thomas.

The approximately 600 residents who did not qualify for the Blue Roof program will be able to access the sheltering-in-place repair program, which provides as much as $25,000 per household. He will write a letter designating the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA) as the lead agency that will administer the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) Program.

The governor said Witt O’Brien’s, whose contract was approved by the Public Finance Authority last week, will handle the rollout of this program and announcements will be made where residents can apply.

Reporting on the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), Mapp said the Department of Human Services (DHS) processed more than 30,000 applications. More than 27,500 households were eligible, and nearly 57,000 people are covered.

The approved benefits, which is a two-month allotment, totals $26.1 million. There are about 350 remaining cards to be funded. The benefits are good for one year.

HURRICANE RESTORATION UPDATE (according to WAPA)

ELECTRIC SYSTEM

• Reconstruction and restoration work continued across the territory on Tuesday, WAPA said.

o On St. Croix, additional customers were restored in the vicinity of The Buccaneer and in Catherine’s Rest, Humbug, Mary’s Fancy, Whim, Campo Rico, Shoys, and Williams Delight where restoration is now 45% complete. Offices of the Departments of Human Services and Education were also reenergized. Additionally, crews carried out reconstruction work, planting poles, stringing lines and preparing circuits in Green Cay, Judith’s Fancy, Clifton Hill, Calquahoun, Queen’s Quarter, Concordia, Sandy Point and at the Container Port. The reinstallation of additional street lights was completed in the Hannah’s Rest area.

o On St. John, more customers were restored in Cruz Bay, Chocolate Hole and Upper Fish Bay as well as in Bordeaux, Glucksburg, Carolina and Hard Labor.

o On St. Thomas, some customers in West Caret Bay, Peterborg, Upper Lindbergh Bay and Old Tutu were restored. Reconstruction crews worked in Brass View, Hawk Hill, near the Sea View Nursing Home, Frenchtown, along the Harwood Highway road leading to Subbase, Mafolie Hill, Skyline Drive, and Smith Bay at the bottom of Cassi Hill.

• WAPA, along with its contractors, have begun to install streetlights along major highways and thoroughfares in the territory as those areas are being energized.

• On Wednesday, the Valdemar Hill Sr. Drive, “Skyline Drive” on St. Thomas, will be closed to vehicular traffic from 8:30-11:30 a.m., and again from 1-4 p.m., as crews perform reconstruction work and debris removal. The road closure will be in effect from the intersection of Louisenhoj Castle to the Donoe Bypass. Area residents will be allowed to access their homes during the road closure. Alternate routes are available for motorists who must traverse the area. In addition, on Wednesday, traffic flow may be restricted to one-lane at times on Mafolie Hill.

• Customers are reminded that homes with temporary roofs (blue roofs) will be restored with electrical service once a licensed electrician has certified, in writing, that the structure is safe to energize.

• If work needs to be done to repair a damaged meter base and/or weather head, customers must call the Emergency Call Center at (340) 774-1424 on St. Thomas-St. John or (340) 773-0150 on St. Croix. The call centers operate seven days a week, 9 am – 5 pm.

• If your electric meter was removed by WAPA personnel to facilitate repairs to either a meter base and/or weather head, once repairs are completed and a licensed electrician certifies the work, in writing, customers are required to notify the Customer Service office. All fees usually associated with meter removal and reconnection have been waived during this restoration period. Customer service offices operate Monday-Friday, 9 am – 4 pm at Sunny Isle on St. Croix and Port of Sale Mall on St. Thomas.

• Reconstruction, restoration and hurricane debris removal crews are deployed across the islands. Motorists are asked to exercise caution when driving through the work areas and to heed the directions of flaggers and VIPD officers who are assisting with traffic control.

• Residents are reminded of the need to shut off standby generators when line crews are in your neighborhood restoring electrical service. A standby generator has the potential to back feed electricity to the grid which poses a severe safety risk to restoration crews.

POTABLE WATER SYSTEM

• There are five days of emergency water storage on St. John, eight days on St. Thomas, and five days on St. Croix. Customers toward the west end of St. Croix will continue to experience low water pressure at times as efforts continue to build capacity in the Kingshill storage tank.

• 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

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

• Customer Service Offices operate Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Sunny Isle on St. Croix and at Port of Sale Mall on St. Thomas.

• The latest information on the restoration effort is available on the WAPA website, www.viwapa.vi and on Facebook: Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority.

• We continue to Recover, Rebuild and Restore. WAPA…Working for You!!

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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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