Cabinet briefs congressional staffers; stresses need for continued federal support

Officials representing various federal committees visited the U.S. Virgin Islands last week for an update on the Territory’s recovery.

Members of Governor Kenneth E. Mapp’s Cabinet met with Congressional staffers last week to apprise federal officials of the Territory’s ongoing recovery efforts and progress, and to highlight the need for resources in several critical areas.

Visiting St. Thomas for the briefing were representatives from the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; the Committee for Economic Development; the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management; the Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management; the Energy and Commerce Committee; the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; and the Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Subcommittee.

Local government representatives included Commissioner of Public Works Nelson Petty, Jr.; Commissioner of Health Dr. Michele Davis; Commissioner of Planning and Natural Resources Dawn Henry; and Neil Vanterpool, Director of Transmission and Distribution for the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA).

Issues discussed during the briefing included the status of infrastructure repairs, such as roads and traffic lights; the need for resilient, permanent medical facilities for the Territory; removal of sunken and damaged vessels; resources needed to repair roofs and housing damaged by the hurricanes, including historic structures; and restoration and hardening of the Territory’s power distribution systems.

“We continue to be grateful to our federal family for their unwavering support in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and we thank the delegation for visiting the Territory to meet with our local leaders,” said Governor Mapp. “We are confident that with continued support, we will be able to build a stronger, more resilient U.S. Virgin Islands.”

After the meeting, representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) accompanied the delegation on a tour of damaged areas in St. Thomas, including the Schneider Regional Medical Center.