LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Lorraine Village Residents Still Don’t Have Electricity After Maria ‘Unleashed’ Its Punishing Fury Five Months Ago
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By VANISA SOLOMON
SPECIAL TO THE VIRGIN ISLANDS FREE PRESS
For many of our Virgin Islands residents, hurricanes Irma and Maria felt like an atrocious dream. Unfortunately, the sad reality is those two Category 5 hurricanes unleashed their “punishing fury” on our lovely Virgin Islands.
I commend the first responders, off and on island lineman, the clean-up crews, various foundations for relief items and our local and federal governments for their bravery and swift action in ensuring protection of our people and our island.
The restoration of electricity to our homes, schools and businesses were extremely critical to our progression and the opportunity to return to our normal state of being.
It has been four and a half months since those dreadful hurricanes caused a minor setback to our island homes. WAPA’s goal of 90 percent of power restoration before Christmas 2017 was highly commendable. I watched the linemen work early mornings and in the blazing sun every day including Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. WAPA made frequent announcements of the restoration plans via their website, local radio stations, newspaper articles and Facebook.
WAPA’s press releases stated, “Customers are advised to make repairs to damaged weather heads and meter bases as soon as possible. Repair damaged weather head or meter base now to avoid a delayed restoration of service.” There was, and still is, no way around dealing with a damaged weather head — either it is repaired or replaced.
It has now been 4 ½ months and Lorraine Village apartments, located in Mount Pleasant/Grove Place; St. Croix does not seem to be heeding the WAPA memo because 30 percent of the livable homes in that housing community are still without power.
The damaged weather heads are still sitting near the buildings, on the grass and in the dirt, appearing in the same position hurricane Maria left them.
The people of this housing community are voiceless. They have a fear of being reprimanded by the housing community’s management. This Letter to the Editor is the only medium residents feel comfortable using.
The management has had very little communication with its residents. The subject of payment for rent is their top priority.
Residents need a timeline of how much longer it will take before the weather heads arrive on island and when they will be installed and reconnected to homes.
Unfortunately, many residents cannot afford and maintain a generator. Buying ice and burning candles has become extremely excruciating. When will there be comfort for infants, children and the elderly who have to shower at the break of dawn and late afternoon in freezing cold water?
Residents are beyond vulnerable and have been very patient.
— Vanisa Solomon, St. Croix, on behalf of Lorraine Village residents