Reiterating his commitment to rebuilding a more resilient Virgin Islands, Governor Mapp announced the Territory will have a stronger energy system through the continued installation and substitution of composite poles.

At a cost of approximately $4,000 each, the composite poles are flexible and can withstand winds up to 200 miles per hour. If damaged, the poles have serial numbers trackable by the manufacturer through a GPS system.

“These are part of the systems that we are installing to harden the transmission and distribution system of the Water and Power Authority (WAPA),” he said during his Wednesday night news conference.

The Governor added that $50 million of the $244 million Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant announced last week will be used to harden WAPA’s generation and distribution system. Wind generators will be installed to help lower the cost of power in the Territory. Also, two generators will be installed on St. John in the Cruz Bay and Coral Bay areas. These will assist in maintaining power to St. John in the event of power disruption to the Randolph Harley Power Plant. 

“This is not a pipe dream,” he said. “This is not three years away – we are already in the process of identifying land for this power generation unit.”

Further enhancing the Territory’s power system, the roofs of the six new schools will serve as solar farms to generate electricity and placed in microgrids.

 Governor Mapp declared his administration will make the most of the current opportunity to work with federal partners and global nonprofit entities such as the Clinton Foundation and the Bloomberg Foundation to “build the Territory in a much more hardened way, and smarter way, to reduce the negative impact to our lives as we go through hurricanes.”

 Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) Federal Coordinating Officer William ‘Bill’ Vogel reported 735,000 cubic yards of debris have been removed from the Territory to date. He said $731 million has been issued for response and recovery operations. Of that, $64.5 million was allocated for housing and other needs, $258.8 million in public assistance, $404.7 million in Small Business Administration low interest disaster loans, and $3.7 million in the national flood insurance claim program.

He reminded residents that February 28 will be the final day for placing hurricane debris on public roads for collection. Placing debris on the roadside after this date will result in tickets being issued for littering.

Governor Mapp estimated between 12,000 to 15,000 homes will benefit from the Emergency Home Repairs VI Project. To qualify, applicants must be the owner of the home, must be able to show damage from Hurricane Irma and/or Maria, must have a FEMA registration number, and must use the home as their primary residence. Residents can call 1 (844) 813-9191 to register or visit www.ehrvi.com 

The Governor began the news conference by expressing his condolences to the family of veteran firefighter, Dwayne A. Thomas, who lost his life in the line of duty.

Governor Mapp has said he will continue to host the weekly recovery briefings as long as is necessary.