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Mapp Says $800 Million In Federal Aid Is Not Enough For Hurricanes Irma, Maria

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The territory expects to receive $800 million in emergency loans from the $36.5 billion storm aid bill approved by Congress earlier this month, Gov. Kenneth Mapp said in a statement today.

The first draw down will occur over the next 10 to 15 days and will go towards rebuilding essential infrastructure such as hospitals and its water and power authority.

The storm aid bill passed by Congress approved $4.9 billion of low interest loans for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to meet immediate liquidity during initial recovery efforts.

In September, the Virgin Islands were devastated by two Category 5 hurricanes that left thousands of people here without power and damaged its airports and hospitals.

Mapp had requested a total of $5.5 billion from Congress in a letter sent October 12 to rebuild, of which he said $1.36 billion was needed for housing alone.

The damage to the tourist enclave has caused the price of some Virgin Islands bonds to tumble amid speculation that it may worsen the financial pressure the government was already contending with.

Bonds issued by its public finance authority that mature in 2025 and are backed by sales-tax revenue traded this week for about 45 cents on the dollar, down from 72 cents before the hurricanes struck.

In the statement today, Mapp said that he is seeking temporary housing for citizens who lost their homes as a result of the storm.

Despite the crisis, the territory said it was preparing to re-open its ports to cruise ships and that the governor will meet with the chief executive officer of Disney Cruise Lines in St. Thomas on Wednesday.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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