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Washington Delegation Gets First-Hand View of Hurricane Recovery Efforts In St. Thomas

DEBRIS CRUNCH: Debris removal in the territory includes crushing and collecting damaged and sunken boats.

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Members of Gov. Kenneth Mapp’s Cabinet met with Congressional staffers last week to apprise federal officials of the territory’s ongoing recovery efforts and progress, and to highlight the need for resources in several critical areas.

Visiting St. Thomas for the briefing were representatives from the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; the Committee for Economic Development; the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management; the Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management; the Energy and Commerce Committee; the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; and the Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Subcommittee.

Local government representatives included Commissioner of Public Works Nelson Petty, Jr.; Commissioner of Health Dr. Michele Davis; Commissioner of Planning and Natural Resources Dawn Henry; and Neil Vanterpool, Director of Transmission and Distribution for the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA).

Issues discussed during the briefing included the status of infrastructure repairs, such as roads and traffic lights; the need for resilient, permanent medical facilities for the territory; removal of sunken and damaged vessels; resources needed to repair roofs and housing damaged by the hurricanes, including historic structures; and restoration and hardening of the territory’s power distribution systems.

“We continue to be grateful to our federal family for their unwavering support in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and we thank the delegation for visiting the Territory to meet with our local leaders,” Mapp said. “We are confident that with continued support, we will be able to build a stronger, more resilient U.S. Virgin Islands.”

After the meeting, representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) accompanied the delegation on a tour of damaged areas in St. Thomas, including the Schneider Regional Medical Center (SRMC).

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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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