US Virgin Islands Governor Calls For Prayers, Unity As Hurricane Recovery Efforts March On
U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth E. Mapp invited residents to enter the doors of the church to offer praise and thanksgiving Sunday as he updated reporters on hurricane recovery efforts here on Saturday.
Governor Mapp welcomed church leaders to hold services on Sunday during the suspension of the 24-hour curfew between noon and 4 p.m. on St. Croix, so residents can ask for continued strength to recover from the two devastating storms that impacted the Territory. The curfew in the St. Thomas/St. John district from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. also gives churches the opportunity to hold services during the day.
“I need that time to go back and talk to God, and tell Him thanks for all His blessings and what He’s done - and it’s important for our community to do that - ‘cause He’s really seen us through the challenge,” said Adjutant General Deborah Howell in response to the Governor’s call for prayer. “The work is not ending, but we’re digging down deep. Our community needs us, we’re gonna do what it is we have to do,” she said.
Governor Mapp, who along with Lieutenant Governor Osbert Potter met with senators earlier in the day Saturday on St. Thomas, said he is happy to accept their support in the Territory’s recovery efforts. “We’re all one government and one community … I can’t do this alone and (welcome) any help that we can get to benefit the people of the Territory. (Members of the Legislature and their staff) will be fully included more robustly in this effort so that they can reach additional people in the Territory who need help,” said Governor Mapp, who held a similar meeting with senators on St. Croix before Hurricane Maria impacted the area.
Governor Mapp, who signed an agreement with the state of Tennessee to provide support via its National Guard, thanked everyone engaged in the recovery effort, including marshals and volunteers, for their contributions thus far, and commended officials for their work on the distribution of supplies. More than 8,000 people were served at the points of distribution Saturday. Distribution centers will not be open on Sunday, September 24.
Director of the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) Mona Barnes reported supply needs across all four islands were being met and thanked her colleagues for putting in “long nights” and “early mornings”. She also thanked the people of the Virgin Islands for obeying the curfew, making it easier for recovery efforts to continue.
Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School shelter in St. Thomas is now closed; more than 600 residents are being accommodated at remaining shelters in the Territory.
In response to the public’s concerns about mosquito control, Commissioner of Health Dr. Michelle Davis spoke of the Department of Health’s vector control team activities and provided information about mosquito protection. She advised families they may use insect repellants containing DEET, picaridin or IR3535 on children when they are two months old (not younger). They may also use oil of lemon eucalyptus on children ages three and older. Commissioner Davis also noted the Department of Health has baby bed nets available, and encouraged residents to call the Department’s Emergency Operations Center at
if they need one.
William (Bill) Vogel, Federal Coordinating Officer of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region II, discussed supply deliveries and reported the reverse osmosis water system can now be activated. “Today was a great day,” Vogel said, noting two C-17 aircraft delivered meals and water on Saturday. Four additional C-17s are expected to deliver supplies on Sunday.
Vogel suggested that residents take photos of the damages they have sustained, contact their insurance providers to initiate the claims process, and keep all receipts. Residents can register for disaster assistance by calling 1-800-621-3362 or visiting www.disasterassistance.gov . He reminded residents official FEMA inspectors carry FEMA badges, and cautioned them against anyone purporting to be a “FEMA-approved contractor”. “Always ask to see the FEMA employee’s badge, and if you suspect any fraud, call the hotline at 1-866-720-5721,” he implored.
Governor Mapp reminded residents that every day is a step forward in the recovery process: “Today is better than it was yesterday.”
The Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands will continue to provide updates as they become available.
The official website to donate to the U.S. Virgin Islands recovery effort is usvirecovery.org .
Other resources for information include:
Government House: www.informusvi.com
Government House Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GovernmentHouseUSVI/
The Department of Tourism: www.usviupdate.com
Emergency Operation Centers: