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Mapp Asks WAPA Why Is It Taking So Long To Restore Electricity To St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John

HAPPY TIMES: The owner of Hook, Line and Sinker gets electricity back on St. Thomas.

FREDERIKSTED — Power restoration is “expected to spike” over the next two weeks as many significant neighborhoods are nearly ready to be energized, Gov. Kenneth Mapp said Friday following a briefing on power restoration and debris removal.

Mapp said that he requested updates on each neighborhood on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, with specific concerns about concentrated population areas, schools, churches and recreation centers.

“Tell me about Louis E. Brown Villas along the highway where the seniors live – we have to get them energized,” the governor said.

Clinton Hedrington Jr., the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority’s (WAPA) electric system chief operating officer (COO), reported that Louis E. Brown was one of the many areas expected to receive power this weekend.

Another 100 linemen will join the 760 working in the territory next week, according to WAPA. Power restoration throughout the Virgin Islands remains at about 43 percent, with a large number of new areas expected to be energized as repairs are completed to major transmission lines.

“Ninety percent restoration by Christmas remains the target,” Mapp said.

Following the neighborhood by neighborhood assessment of power restoration, Mapp requested that street lights be made a priority and suggested that at least some lights be fixed in all areas of the island.

“I want you to concentrate on the main thoroughfares, but make sure that we at least get some street lights up throughout the territory,” he said.

The Governor said that he remains frustrated with the pace of debris removal and met with members of the Administration and contractors Friday in order to discuss both removal and the final disposal of hurricane debris.

Mapp stated that the vast majority of organic hurricane debris will likely be chipped and composted, however, given the need to meet federal timelines all options for disposal must remain open to the Virgin Islands government, to include a small amount of controlled burning.

“Expenses for debris removal will be covered by the federal government, however, if we want them to pay for it, it must be done in a specific time frame,” the Governor said. “We have to be realistic about our ability to manage all this material.”

Administration officials are working this weekend on finalizing a multi-pronged approach for disposing of hurricane debris and preserving the maximum amount of the territory’s valuable hardwoods.

Agriculture Commissioner Carlos Robles said that more than six weeks ago he formally requested that the Army Corp of Engineers assist in separating hardwoods such as mahogany, tibbet, lignum vitae, genip and ironwood from the rest of the hurricane debris.

“The mahogany is being extracted from the debris piles as we speak,” Robles said.

Robles said that a plan for distributing the tropical hardwood was in the works and that the department would make an announcement as to when community groups or individuals could arrange pick up.

We are identifying sites to store it now,” he said.

Mapp said the debris and power restoration team would meet with him weekly at Government House until the territory had been fully energized and the majority of debris had been cleared away.

“Friday’s meeting was very productive,” the governor said. “We have the information we need to be able to plan and to help manage the public’s expectations.”

HURRICANE RESTORATION UPDATE (from the V.I. Water and Power Authority Dec. 1)

ELECTRIC SYSTEM

• On St. Thomas Friday, some customers were restored in Frenchtown, the Demarara community, Old Tutu, Estate Mafolie, Altona & Welgunst, Mahogany Estate, Mariendahl and Nadir. The Arturo Watlington Sr. Post Office in Frenchtown was also energized. Over the weekend, crews will continue reconstruction work along Skyline Drive, in Subbase from the Pueblo Supermarket to MSI Building Supplies and in the vicinity of the cargo building at the Cyril E. King Airport. On Saturday, the Valdemar Hill Sr. Drive, “Skyline Drive” on St. Thomas, will again be closed to vehicular traffic from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., as crews perform reconstruction work. 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.

• On St. John, some customers in Pastory, Pocket Money Hill, Gifft Hill, Fish Bay and Roman Hill Road were restored. Reconstruction and restoration work will continue in Coral Bay, Zootenval, Freeman Ground and Bordeaux. Additionally, crews continue to plant poles along Centerline Road.

• On St. Croix, additional customers were restored in Herman Hill, which is now at 100%, in Catherine’s Rest, Tan Tan Terrace, Sion Farm, the western side of Mary’s Fancy, Barren Spot, Strawberry, William’s Delight, Mars Hill and Mount Pleasant. Over the weekend, crews will continue to plant poles in Calquahoun. Other crews will work from the intersection of Routes 75 and 79, up to Route 80 which will be closed to vehicular traffic on Saturday. Traffic flow may also be impacted on Midland Road from Glynn gas station to Frontline.

• 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 on St. Croix’s west end may experience a loss of water pressure as efforts continue to build capacity at 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!!

HURRICANE RESTORATION UPDATE (by WAPA from Nov. 30)

ELECTRIC SYSTEM

• Additional manpower and shipments of materials and supplies are on island to augment WAPA’s restoration efforts in both districts.

o On St. Thomas Thursday, additional customers in Frenchtown and Hull Bay were energized while other crews continued reconstruction work in Altona & Welgunst, Peterborg, Subbase, Mafolie, Skyline Drive and at the entrance to Northstar Village on St. Peter Mountain Road.

o On St. John, additional customers in Contant, Cruz Bay and Enighed, in the area of Fish Bay and on Roman Hill Road were restored while crews prepared to reenergize customers in Bordeaux Mountain, Ajax Peak and Upper Carolina.

o On St. Croix, some customers in Hermon Hill, Sion Farm, Tan Tan Terrace, William’s Delight, Barren Spot, Mount Pleasant West and Ludvig Harrigan Court were restored, as well as the St. George Botanical Garden. Restoration work commenced in Judith’s Fancy and toward Mon Bijou. In Frederiksted, crews prepared 42 locations for replacement street lights to be installed. Crews will continue to work on replacement streetlights toward Hannah’s Rest, and from Mars Hill toward the east.

• On Friday, the Valdemar Hill Sr. Drive, “Skyline Drive” on St. Thomas, will again 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. Additionally, traffic flow may be restricted to one-lane on Mafolie Hill at times Friday as work continues in the area. Other crews will work in Subbase, Scott Free, St. Peter Mountain Road, Estate Pearl, Benner Hill, Nadir and Mariendahl.

• On St. Croix Friday, crews will work in Sion Farm, Estate Glynn, William’s Delight, Frederiksted, Mount Pleasant West and Barren Spot.

• A restoration schedule was published for the next two weeks detailing areas where crews will be restoring service. WAPA remains committed to its previously stated goal of restoring 90% of all areas in the territory by December 25. The restoration schedule is available on WAPA’s website: www.viwapa.vi and on Facebook: Virgin Islands Water & Power Authority.

• 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.

• 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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