During his Monday press conference, Governor Kenneth E. Mapp provided recovery updates, including the reopening
of St. Thomas’ iconic Magens Bay, and plans for the upcoming Crucian Christmas Festival.
ST. CROIX, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Governor Kenneth E. Mapp described the official opening and dedication of Magens Bay on St. Thomas this Thursday, December 7 with Royal Caribbean International as a “great, great sign of progress”.
Addressing reporters at Government House on St. Croix on Monday, the Governor thanked the cruise company for being so invested in the restoration of the iconic attraction and extended thanks to Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty and her team for their work to reopen Magens Bay.
Governor Mapp anticipates the 65th anniversary of the Crucian Christmas Festival will be a “robust” one. The village will be on St. Croix around December 17 for three weeks. The Governor said a number of organizations, including some in the private sector, are working with the Government to put together a Crucian Christmas Festival night on each island. He encouraged residents to use the Festival to shed their worries: “It’s for everyone to come out and just simply relax … get in some spirit of stress release.”
As the U.S. Virgin Islands recovery continues, Governor Mapp said the Territory will demonstrate that the working relationship between the local and the federal governments is very productive in managing the response to natural disasters.
However, he also acknowledged that many residents are still in need after the devastation left by the hurricanes and thanked his as well as the entire FEMA team for their support of the Virgin Islands’ recovery efforts. He reminded residents: “This is going to be a long process, but we can demonstrate by the evidence and the data … that every day is better than the day before and that we are making progress.”
The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) continues to make headway in restoring power across the Virgin Islands, including the restoration of street lights on main thoroughfares. There are currently 711 linemen from outside the Territory supporting WAPA. An additional group of 100 linemen are expected to arrive within the week.
Governor Mapp has instituted a weekly meeting at Government House with the leadership of WAPA, the Department of Public Works, the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, and consultants working with WAPA. These meetings will help to ensure the goals of all agencies are aligned.
The Department of Property and Procurement will begin repairs to Route 40 on St. Thomas and St. John on December 14. The Scott Free Road Phase One/Bridge Replacement (Access Route 405) and the Crown Bay Road (Route 33 and 304) Pedestrian and Drainage Improvement projects will commence on December 18.
Residents were again encouraged to exercise caution on the roadways and to pay attention to the many potholes which can cause damage. The Governor assured residents that the roads in the Territory will be repaired, however rains and limited resources have been affecting the progress. He emphasized that patching the roadways is not a permanent solution.
The Governor said that $120 million of the Territory’s $7.5 billion request to Congress included was identified for damage to the road systems throughout the Virgin Islands.
The Virgin Islands Port Authority has advised that mold remediation is coming to an end at the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas.
The approximately 600 residents who did not qualify for the Blue Roof program will be able to access the sheltering-in-place repair program, which provides as much as $25,000 per household. He will write a letter designating the U.S. Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority as the lead agency that will administer the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) Program. The Governor said Witt O’Brien’s, whose contract was approved by the Public Finance Authority last week, will handle the rollout of this program and announcements will be made where residents can apply.
Reporting on the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), Governor Mapp said the Department of Human Services processed more than 30,000 applications. More than 27,500 households were eligible, and nearly 57,000 people are covered. The approved benefits, which is a two-month allotment, totals $26.1 million. There are about 350 remaining cards to be funded. The benefits are good for one year.