“Today is better than it was yesterday.” … and this momentum, even if it feels like “going back to square one” or starting over, this is an opportunity to not simply fix what is broken, but to try again at giving the island what it truly needs with the support, knowledge and desire to make it even better!
This SJCF-VOAD update will include current highlights, summaries of St. John community meetings at 10am Mongoose and noon at Coral Bay Fire Station, as well as public information from the EOC/VITEMA meetings at 8:30 and 4pm, current information from the Governor, FEMA, Tourism and other reliable sources of information.
*Information contained in this article is copied with permission directly from SJCF Director Celia Kalousek’s report 9.26.2017
Now that internet is more accessible, more posts are being shared – please T.H.I.N.K. before sharing…is it True. Helpful. Inspiring. Necessary. Kind.
GETTING AROUND; TRANSPORTATION: The 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. curfew for the St. Thomas/St. John district officially remains in effect, and there have been no issues regarding this on STJ. Gas distribution: E&C is open; NPS dock opens from 8-12 for response workers and at noon for the general public. Ferry service continues on the following schedule: Departing Cruz Bay at 9, 10, 12, 3, 5p; returning at 9:30, 11:30, 1:30, 3:30 and 5:30p (note: check the ferry dock for the current schedule as it is subject to change). Car barge service currently runs once a day, ask at the barge for the schedule as it changes daily. Ports are open in Puerto Rico and St. Croix. This is restricted to limited service and daytime travel only. This means that shipping companies like Tropical and Merchants will be operational this week! The Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas is expected to reopen for commercial flights on Thursday, September 28, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth E. Mapp announced Monday. Flight schedules are to be determined by the respective airlines, and the Governor urged travelers to arrive four hours before departure to ensure passengers can be processed in time. Plans are underway to open the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix next week.
YOUTH & MORE: GHS School is in session from 10a-2p Mon. thru Fri. at GHS; Anyone can come with their child to register for classes starting at 12noon every day for information about placement tests and more. Fees have been deferred until further notice. Immunizations required can be obtained from Cruz Bay Family Practice at Marketplace. JESS school’s goal is to open on Oct. 10th; teachers should now be reporting to work daily. Basketball Court and playground in town is cleared thanks to St. John volunteers and Army Corps of Engineers. We are working with St. John School of the Arts on their building repairs (and hoping to install a generator) so they can open for youth activities. The shelter at JESS is transitioning so repairs to the school can start taking place.
POWER, COMMUNICATION & COMMERCE: First Bank Full service and ATM operational during the hours of 9-2pm when Marketplace generator is on. Merchants Bank says they are open in STT from 12-4pm, but for more info call 779-2265. WiFi hot spots near Ronnie’s Pizza, Connections, between the BMV building and the tennis court, and on the 3rd floor of the Marketplace. Look for VINGN-FreePublic. No password is needed, just a sign-in agreement page when first connecting. More wifi equipment arrived and service will be expanding! Open for Business: Chelsea Drug Store, Starfish Market, the health clinic at the Marketplace, St. John Hardware, Paradise Lumber, Connections, St. John Ice, Dolphin Market, Pine Peace Market, E&C Service, Caravan Auto, Pink Papaya, Hercules and Chesters and Calabash Market in Coral Bay are all operational. Community Happy Hour at tap Room on Fridays! PriceMart is open on STT and taking credit cards, but Kmart, Home Depot and Cost-u- are not open. Postal Service: Although post office is not officially open, they are distributing mail via a system that works best in the moment (you still cannot mail out). This is all mail that came before Irma – nothing since Maria. Power: WAPA has executed agreements for a first phase of 240 linemen to assist with the Territory’s reconstruction with more on the way. WAPA officials are working with federal partners to transport crews and equipment to the Territory to restore power as rapidly as possible. In his talks with federal officials, Governor Mapp emphasized the importance of building resilience into the power distribution system.
FEEDING, FEMA and RED CROSS: Food distribution from noon-3pm at JESS ballfield and at the Fire Station in Coral Bay. Cruz Bay Landing, Longboard supported by Red Cross to serve up to 1000 meals per day; 420, Indigo Grill, Dog House and others providing supportive service and more announcements of restaurant openings on social media including SunDog Cafe! Red Cross clean up kits being distributed with more to come. Federal Coordinating Officer of FEMA Region II William (Bill) Vogel reported FEMA has to date discharged 3.6 million meals, 1.3 million liters of water, 15,000 rolls of blue sheeting for blue roofs, 18 infant toddler kits, and has connected 27 generators. Westin and Caneel both have potable water.
HEALTH AND MEDICAL CARE: Com. of Health Dr. Michelle Davis reported medical evacuations were continuing for patients in collaboration with FEMA; on St. John that is from the Myrah Keating which is now closed for general medical attention – People are being cared for from the Decastro Clinic in Cruz Bay and at the Fire Station in Coral Bay. Davis underscored the need for residents to take care of their mental health; counselors come over from STT to DeCastro daily, and she recommends that anyone experiencing psychological distress as a result of the hurricanes call the helpline 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish). The helpline provides free, confidential and multilingual counseling and crisis support. Residents can also reach the helpline via SMS by texting talkwithus (for English) or hablanos (for Spanish) to 1-212-461-4635. 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 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. Mosquito nets are suggested and will be coming in containers due late this week and next.
ACCOMMODATIONS AND REPAIRS: “The target objective at this point is to get you in a dry, secure house – a place you can stay, where your remaining items are secure, where you can sleep at night and not worry and …as WAPA comes through… a place where we can get you connected to power,” Gov. Mapp said. As FEMA and insurance providers must assess damages prior to permanent fixes, an interim solution for some damaged or destroyed roofs may be more durable tarps. Operation Blue Roof is carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Virgin Islands government to provide homeowners affected by Hurricane Irma with fiber-reinforced blue plastic sheeting to cover their damaged roofs until permanent repairs can be made. Everyone requesting temporary roofing assistance needs to sign a Right of Entry (ROE). On St. John that is at the VITEMA Office next to Public Works across from the Resource Depot and at the Fire Station in Coral Bay. As USACE begins implementing this important program and more of their temporary roofing teams arrive to the Virgins Islands, residents are encouraged to listen to their local government officials and radio stations for information and be aware of SCAMS. This is a free service, if asked to pay it is not Operation Blue Roof. As usual, it will take longer to get full service on St. John and even in St. Thomas Blue Roof Mission Manager Jay Lang says “It will take several days for personnel to arrive due to limited air support capabilities on the island right now; nevertheless our contractors are starting to install temporary roofs on houses.” William (Bill) Vogel, Federal Coordinating Officer of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region II, 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 visitingwww.
GARBAGE AND DEBRIS REMOVAL: VI Waste Management Authority Exec. Dir. Roger Merritt said his teams will continue to add capacity to all four islands to collect and dispose of garbage, noting that residents are generating four to five times more waste than before the hurricanes. He asked for only household waste to be deposited at bin sites for the time being.
VOLUNTEERS, please register with VOAD and Red Cross
Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/
ST JOHN COMMUNITY FOUNDATION: Our community is resilient and with your help, we WILL rebuild! To make a donation to the Foundation for St. John IRMA-MARIA relief efforts go tohttp://thestjohnfoundation.
We were formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo and have been responsibly managing local and federal funds for over 28 years as a 501c3. Your donations are fully tax deductible. We are continuously looking for ways to fill service gaps and cultivate community assets and stateside support including people, organizations, programs, and resources to effectively respond to the needs of the community in the hurricane relief and recovery effort – from immediate response to long term recovery. Support coming in now will help us revive and rebuild and welcome people back to Love City in the very near future!