“Paradise is not lost!” Message from St.John Community Foundation Director Celia Kalousek
*Information contained in this article is copied directly from SJCF Director Celia Kalousek’s report 9.21.2017
Communications are limited, as expected, and teams are in the process of making an assessment of damage to the island’s infrastructure. Intermittent calls and internet exchanges are coming through with reports of wind and continuous rain, but no reports of serious injuries. Word this morning was an island wide full day curfew while military and first responders clear the roads and ensure the security of residents, power lines, structures and allow teams that had been deployed to return and set up for ongoing recovery efforts and supply distribution. Residents were told to get several days of provisions prior to Maria in anticipation of this; water and MRE’s were handed out in quantities that would enable residents to stay put for several days.
CELL PHONE SERVICE: When curfews are lifted, people will be able to find cell reception (which is now spotty due to rains) and various Wi-Fi hotspots, including one at the Port Authority parking lot (thanks to Viya) and one at Ronnie’s, DMV and others coming up thanks to the work of VINGN, Jason and Matt. Coral Bay was connected with help from the Navy in between Irma and Maria; and Sharon is still getting messages out with requests that include the need for plastic bins for residents to protect what they were able to salvage from the continuing rains.
THE DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM: continues to encourage travelers to postpone trips to the islands at this time as it further evaluates the damage caused by the hurricanes and coordinates ongoing evacuation efforts. Last report we could find from the VI Port Authority was on the 17th; we will stay connected to the Government House, Dept of Tourism stay and other information sources and share updates: For flight information in and out of the territory here are the contact numbers for airports and airlines serving USVI http://www.usviupdate.com/
GOVERNOR MAPP’S MESSAGE: “We continue to work with our federal partners and our friends across the mainland and around the world, to clean up and reconstruct the beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands. Always remember, we are strong and we are resilient. We will provide further updates as communications are fully restored.” said Gov. Mapp in last night’s update, which also directed us to the President’s official Disaster Declaration and an announcement that said he will continue to direct all necessary Federal resources to protect and support the people of the United States territories affected by these storms. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repair, low cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of this disaster.
DISASTER ASSISTANCE: Residents are encouraged to apply for Individual Assistance (IA) using websitewww.DisasterAssistance.gov. The process has been tested and is efficient. The telephone number to apply for IA is 1-800-621-3362. The Disaster Assistance Improvement Program’s (DAIP) mission is to provide disaster survivors with information, support, services, and a means to access, apply for and track the status of disaster assistance through joint data-sharing efforts between federal, tribal, state, local, and private sector partners. They also provide information about transitional sheltering assistance program and direct volunteers to the NVOAD site to affiliate with an organization planning a mission to the VI. Disaster Assistance Fact Sheet (PDF, 2 MB) offers help finding other disaster news, resources, and federal assistance. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest disaster loans to help small businesses and homeowners recover from declared disasters.
NOTICE TO VOLUNTEERS: Please know that many aspects of this recovery will take weeks, months and even years ….and we WILL need you. Register online at https://voad.communityos.org/
The true spirit of St. John continues to emerge from the wreckage, and the St. John Community Foundation and others are taking specific action now to put into place the resources to allow effective short and long term recovery efforts. Thank you for helping us make that happen…our community is strong! We did survive and WILL rebuild! Support coming in now will help us revive and rebuild in what is going to be a long road ahead.
To make a donation to the Foundation for St. John IRMA-MARIA relief efforts (PayPal is waiving all fees) go tohttp://thestjohnfoundation.