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6-Hour WAPA Blackout Strikes St. Thomas and St. John On Anniversary Of Irma

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A blackout left tens of thousands of customers without power in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Labor Day amid sweltering hot temperatures.

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) failure left many on the islands of St. Thomas and St. John in the dark before dawn after several generators at a power plant failed, officials said in a statement.

Most remained without power by midday, after temperatures had climbed to around 90 degrees Fahenheit (32 Celsius), with very high humidity that made it feel hotter.

Monday September 6 — the date of the WAPA power outage — was the four-year anniversary of Hurricane Irma which totally devastated St. Thomas and St. John in 2017.

“Thanks to WAPA’s six hours islandwide power outage this 4th year anniversary of hurricane Irma become specialty fresh,” Tetyana Hayes said from St. Thomas.

WAPA didn’t immediately say what caused the failures.

“WAPA and constant outages (many for no apparent reason) are one of the chief reasons these islands will NEVER TRULY PROSPER as they could,” Rich Sadler said from St. Thomas. “Case in point: What US-Based Company worth its salt will ever want to expand its operations to the US Virgin Islands when we have such inconsistency with power / energy? Answer: NONE! In these modern days, advance technology-type companies are highly sought-after by cities, counties and States. These tech-companies typically employ educated, higher net-worth workers, increase the tax-base for the municipality they are located in, are not tourism dependent and characteristically provide a clean environment (not like industrial-style companies emitting dangerous exhaust or pollutants into the air via unsightly smokestacks) thereby adding much value to the community. Yet the one thing any/all tech companies need is: STEADY, RELIABLE ENERGY to produce their products or provide their services. Sadly, something we in the US Virgin Islands are incapable of delivering. And that is simply a damn shame!”

At least 50,000 people live in St. Thomas and roughly 4,000 in St. John.

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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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