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16 Months After Hurricanes IrMaria, FEMA Says Debris Removal Is Still Underway

CHARLOTTE AMALIE – Debris removal is underway for those enrolled in the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said today.

FEMA and the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands have extended the STEP program until March 31, 2019; an extension for debris pickup/removal has been requested and is currently under review.

The Department of Public Works (DPW), which manages the STEP debris removal process, has removed approximately 50 percent of debris from St. Croix, approximately 30 percent from St. John and approximately 20 percent from St. Thomas.                                                                            

Contractors are responsible for preparing neighborhoods for debris collection. This includes: lumber and galvanized debris only, separating and properly placing debris in the right-of-way area for pickup and removal by the DPW. going onto private property is strictly prohibited by the DPW.

“FEMA continues to support the territory in this debris removal effort as it is a massive undertaking and a key component of the recovery process,” said Jacqueline Heyliger, U.S. Virgin Islands Recovery Director. “We must continue to restore our residences and local communities amid ongoing challenges while we focus on the operation of separation, collection, pickup and recycling debris for final off-island removal.”

DPW and contractors continue to work hard on this debris removal task. For general inquiries and for more information about people with disabilities or access for those who have functional needs, please contact the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA) on St. Croix at (340) 772-4HFA (4432), St. John/St. Thomas at (340) 777-4HFA (4432), or visit Be ready to provide an EHRVI Applicant Identification Number.

The STEP program is funded through FEMA’s Public Assistance program, but it is administered by the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority under the Emergency Home Repairs VI program (EHRVI). EHRVI allows people to live in their homes while repairs are being made. To contact (EHRVI) call 844-813-9191, 855-378-0799, email or visit

FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during, and after a disaster.

For official information on the recovery effort following the hurricanes, please visit Follow us on social media at and To sign up for emergency, weather related, public safety and service disruption alerts on the Virgin Islands, sign up for Alert VI or copy into your browser.

To donate or volunteer, contact the voluntary or charitable organization of your choice through the National Voluntary Agencies Active in Disasters (NVOAD) at www.nvoad.orgFor those who wish to help, cash donations offer voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources and pumps money into the local economy to help businesses recover. The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands also has the “Fund for the Virgin Islands” at

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