Only two weeks after Hurricane Irma devastated St. John and St. Thomas, Hurricane Maria hit St. Croix in the early hours of September 20th as a Category 5 hurricane. While two back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes have rocked the US Virgin Islands, we want our readers to know that we are a community of strong and resilient people that will work together to rebuild our island homes, businesses and lives.
FEMA, VITEMA, and the US Coast Guard were already operating in the USVI as a result of Hurricane Irma, so they were quick to get to St. Croix after Hurricane Maria and begin: restoring communications, securing and clearing the ports, and providing medical care, clean water, food and shelter. Local organizations are also raising funds to help with the relief efforts and taking in donations to help with the recovery efforts for the USVI. Since social media has been the main form of communication in and around the devastated areas, we here at GoToStCroix.com have gathered as much of the information from as many sources as possible and compiled it here, including: general information for St. Croix residents, resources for disaster assistance, federal and local contacts, “safe lists”, and organizations taking donations and relief supplies.
FOR ST. CROIX RESIDENTS…
Safe List : If you have not already done so, FEMA recommends that all residents register themselves as “safe and well” on the Red Cross website so that loved ones can find you. Please register at https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php.
Curfew : Curfew was terminated effective October 30th due to the fact that the major hazards were removed from the majority of the roadways.
Generators : Non-permitted generators are allowed to run between 6am and 10pm daily. D.P.N.R. and V.I.P.D. officers will be enforcing the non-permitted generator noise ordinance by issuing citations for residents running their generators after the 10pm cut-off time.
WiFi Hotspots : For anyone still struggling to get cellphone service or internet connectivity, there are currently wireless access points at the following locations according to FEMA and Viya: Cost-U-Less, Florence Williams Library, Government House, Gallows Bay, Canegata Ballpark, VITEMA Emergency Operations Center, Plaza Extra East, American Red Cross, and Plaza West.
Government Updates : For the most up-to-date information about curfews, government assistance, infrastructure repairs, debris removal, the blue roof program, health services, and more, visit informusvi.com. You can also visit the Government House Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GovernmentHouseUSVI/.
WAPA Updates : WAPA has been providing regular updates on their assessment and repair of the power and water systems on their website homepage at www.viwapa.vi/Home.aspx
FEMA Updates : FEMA is providing regular updates related to Hurricane Maria about Federal Assistance, Points of Distribution for supplies, communications, safety tips and more on their website at www.fema.gov/hurricane-maria.
The Department of Tourism : www.usviupdate.com
Emergency Operation Centers :
(340) 773-2244 (St. Croix)
(340) 776-2244 (St. John)
(340) 774-2244 (St. Thomas)
Residents can register for disaster assistance by calling 1-800-621-3362 or by visiting the website: www.disasterassistance.gov. Once you register, you may become eligible for financial or direct assistance for housing. There’s also potential assistance to cover other disaster-related expenses and needs, such as: grants to replace personal property; grants to help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other disaster-related needs.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also offers low-interest disaster loans to qualified survivors. Survivors do not have to accept an SBA loan, if one is offered. If they do not qualify for a loan, SBA will refer them back to FEMA and they could be considered for other FEMA grants for disaster-related car repairs, clothing, household items and other items. Contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Survivors who are deaf or hard of hearing may call TTY 1-800-877-8339.
FEMA Disaster Recovery Center Locations on St. Croix:
- Frederiksted at the Rotary Club West (40 KA-KD Estate LaGrange)
- Christiansted at the Old Post Office Building (at Church and Company streets)
- Christiansted at Fire Captain Rencelliar I. Gibbs Fire Station (Parcel #1, Estate Cotton Valley, East End)
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is available to survivors who lost jobs as a result of Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria. The USVI Department of Labor is assisting applicants on St. Croix at Juanita Gardine Elementary School (rooms 102 and 103), from 11 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. The application deadline is November 23, 2017.
The Disaster Distress Helpline is available for anyone experiencing psychological distress as a result of the hurricanes, please call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish). The helpline provides free, confidential and multilingual counseling and crisis support. The helpline can also be reached via SMS by texting talkwithus (for English) or hablanos (for Spanish) to 1-212-461-4635.
FOR THOSE LOOKING FOR LOVED ONES…
Red Cross Safe List: safeandwell.communityos.org/zf/safesearch/search
FOR THOSE THAT WANT TO HELP…
The official website to donate to the US Virgin Islands recovery effort is being organized by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. You can learn more and donate at usvirecovery.org.
You can also donate to the Virgin Islands – Relief, Recover, Rebuild (VI-R3), which was started here on St. Croix for our sister islands after Hurricane Irma, but has since been expanded to include St. Croix. You can also volunteer goods and/or services if you are here on St. Croix by contacting VI-R3 through their website. To learn more, visit vi-r3.org. (VI-R3 is a nonprofit organization working with the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, their fiscal sponsor, to ensure all donations are tax-deductible.)
Through the CARE (Caribbean Assistance and Relief Effort) Fund, the St. Croix Foundation is offering support for both immediate and strategic needs throughout the USVI. St. Croix Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, you can learn more and donate at www.stxfoundation.org/usvi-gives/care-fund/.
Crucian native son Tim Duncan has also raised millions of dollars through his organization 21USVIDuncanRelief.org, and he and his team have personally distributed goods here on St. Croix and throughout the US Virgin Islands. You can support this organization by donating or volunteering at: 21usvihurricanehelp.com.
Cane Bay Cares is another locally founded organization offering supplies to assist the people of St. Croix, and is committed to helping to uplift the island in these challenging times. To learn more, visit www.canebaycares.org. (Cane Bay Cares is in a fiscal partnership with the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, to ensure all donations are tax-deductible.)
For anyone wishing to donate goods, you can do so through National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (NOVAD) at: www.nvoad.org/howtohelp/donate/ because this organization is recommended by FEMA. You can also volunteer your services through NOVAD at www.nvoad.org/howtohelp/volunteer/.
Thank you to all of the men and women of FEMA, VITEMA, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of engineers, the American Red Cross, and the VI Government for helping to get immediate relief here to the USVI. Thank you also to the employees and contractors of WAPA and Department of Public Works, as well as all of the lineman who have come to St. Croix to help, for working so hard to clear our roadways and get our infrastructure up and running. Thank you to the cruise lines and airlines that have offered mercy cruises or flights to evacuate people from the islands, as well as transporting and housing aid workers.
Also, thank you to all of the volunteers who have come to St. Croix and the USVI to provide much needed emergency services, supplies, manpower and expertise to help us get back on our feet as quickly as possible. We here at GoToStCroix.com would also like to thank those of you who have reached out to us to see how the island is doing, and sending your love, prayers, encouraging words, and offers of assistance to the people of St. Croix. Please keep your positive vibes coming our way!
– Jennie Ogden, Editor