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‘Resiliency Workshops’ Highlight Need For Virgin Islanders To Get A Life … And Do Something Productive With Their Lives

ON THE SPOT: Government House Media Spokesperson Sandra Goomansingh, right, interviews WICO CEO Clifford Graham at Monday’s hurricane resiliency workshop on St. Thomas.

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Gov. Kenneth Mapp’s Hurricane Recovery Advisory Committee held its first resiliency and sustainability workshop on Monday as part of the Governor’s mission to build back the U.S. Virgin Islands in a stronger, smarter and more environmentally friendly manner.

“These workshops will ensure we integrate resiliency, sustainability and best practices at every step along the way,” Mapp said.

The workshop, held on St. Thomas, included participants from local government agencies, including Eugene Farrell, Chief of Staff to Mapp; Commissioner of Health Michelle Davis; Clifford Graham of the West Indian Company; and representatives from the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA), the V.I. Port Authority, and various government departments, including Agriculture, Human Services, Labor, Housing, Planning and Natural Resources, and the Public Finance Authority. Community and philanthropic groups also attended, including the St. John Community Foundation, Love City Strong and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Dina Leroy, head of the Hurricane Recovery Advisory Committee and an advisor to the Governor, reported more workshops are planned in the coming months on St. Croix and St. John. “Because each island has different needs, getting local input will help us build back the right way for each community,” Leroy said.

“There is a great opportunity to rebuild the USVI in a more sustainable way that not only decreases vulnerability to future storms, but also reduces energy costs and protects the Territory’s natural resources,” said Adam Freed of Bloomberg Associates, a philanthropic consulting firm that offers pro bono assistance to cities around the world.

Meaghan Enright of the Love for Love City Foundation said the workshop provided an important opportunity to examine the “unique and intricate system that is the USVI,” adding, “we can then identify gaps within that system and address those gaps to build a better, more resilient territory moving forward.”

The full contingent of the Hurricane Recovery Advisory Committee is scheduled to hold its second meeting on Tuesday. The committee is assisting the Mapp-Potter Administration’s efforts to guide the Territory’s short- and long-term recovery following September’s Category 5 hurricanes.

The committee comprises local officials and community leaders, as well as resiliency, housing, environmental and other experts from around the country. The Advisory Committee is performing a quantitative assessment of the damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The group also is outlining potential future natural hazards, including how the risks may evolve with a changing climate.

Anyone interested in attending future workshops can contact the committee at USVIHurricaneResiliency@gmail.com for more information.

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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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