St. Croix has survived several major hurricanes, including Category 5 Hurricane Maria in 2017 and Hurricane Hugo in 1989. In the event of another major storm, we want to make sure everyone knows what to do to when a Hurricane Warning is issued. What does it mean when the U.S. Virgin Islands officially goes into a ‘Hurricane Warning’? According to the National Hurricane Center, a “Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.” Here is what you need to know for both before and after a predicted hurricane:
Public Hurricane Advisories & Updates
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operates the National Hurricane Center website. The website issues public advisories on potential and active storms at 8am, 11am, 5pm, 8pm, and 11pm daily. These advisories include Tropical Storm watches and warnings, Hurricane watches and warnings, as well as graphics showing the probable wind speeds and areas that may be effected. Please monitor this website closely: www.nhc.noaa.gov. Also, the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) can be reached at (340) 774-2244. We also recommend signing up for important territorial weather and emergency related alerts at www.vialert.gov. There is also a local Facebook page for the US Virgin Islands Tropical Hurricane Weather Station that is a good resource, which you can follow at www.facebook.com/NorthsideWeatherStation/.
If you need sandbags to protect your property, VITEMA lists the locations and times sandbags are available for pick up on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/vitema/. The Department of Public Works will issue up to six (6) sandbags per household. We recommend taking your own shovel to fill the bags in case there is a long line.
In the event that St. Croix is hit by a hurricane, your loved ones will want to know that you are safe. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends registering at the Red Cross ‘Safe and Well’ website. Or, check in via social media as soon as it is possible for you to do so. Please be sure to let your loved ones know before a potential storm, they should search for your name on the ‘Safe and Well’ site and/or the Facebook page in the event of a storm. The Red Cross ‘Safe and Well’ page can be found at: safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php.
Federal Disaster Assistance
In the event of a hurricane, FEMA will set up an information page in addition to physically getting aid to the island. If you can get an internet connection or cellphone service to use your data, please make sure to check out the latest information from FEMA at: www.fema.gov.
Everyone please be as prepared as possible for potential storms. We here at GOTO will continue to provide information and resources as they become available, and as communications allows. Stay safe!
– Jennie Ogden, Editor