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VIHA Awards Contracts For Long-Awaited Hurricane Repairs

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Residents at Michael J. Kirwan Terrace and the Knolls at Contant on St. Thomas who have been awaiting repairs to roofs damaged from Hurricanes Irma and Maria can look forward to some relief.

The Virgin Islands Housing Authority Board approved recommendations to award contracts for the reconstruction and repair of rooftops at each public housing community last week.

“We really are pleased that these resolutions came to us for action because we know how important and needed this work is,” VIHA Board Chair Noreen Michael said. “Our residents have been anxious about this, particularly in light of the fact that early on there was an anticipation that this was going to be an active hurricane season.”   

Active it has been, but the territory so far has been spared; a fortunate thing as federal disaster relief funds were slow to be released, evidenced by the many blue-tarped roofs still dotting the island landscape. 

Funded under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and the U. S. Housing & Urban Development’s Capital Fund Program, the projects will bring the roofs up to today’s building codes and provide a more wind-resistant design.

A contract award recommendation to rehabilitate at least 200 vacant apartments on St. Thomas and St. Croix  was also approved.

Returning the vacant units to occupancy will provide much-needed options for families who are awaiting transfers and are currently on the waiting lists on both islands,  according to VIHA Executive Director Robert Graham.

“VIHA will use the funds to keep a pool of contractors working on an expedited schedule toward a target completion date of March 31, 2021,” Graham said.

Six companies were recommended to rehabilitate the vacant units on both islands: Custom Builders, Rupert George Construction, Inc., EMJ Enterprise LLC, Lemartec USVI, Inc., Michael P. Hand & Associates and Continental Construction and Engineering LLC.

“I want to thank the residents who chose not to be relocated for being so patient while we waited on funding approval,” Graham said. “It has not been easy for them living with leaks and temporary fixes. We’re very glad that a permanent solution is in sight.”

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