Nov. 14, 2003 Mud, rock and tree slides as well as flooding temporarily closed roads and inconvenienced residents across the territory as they struggled with yet another day of rain. The rain began falling heavily on Monday, and more heavy rains and thunderstorms late Thursday and early Friday compounded the problem.
"The ground is saturated," said Ernesto Morales, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan.
The sun should peak out on Saturday, Morales said. However, intermittent showers will continue to fall at least through Monday as a cold front moves into the area.
Public schools closed for the third day in a row. Education Commissioner Noreen Michael told radio station WVWI that she was calling on volunteers to help custodial crews to help clean the water and debris out of the schools.
Gov. Charles Turnbull gave non-essential government workers the day off.
"Last night's downpour caused further flooding and damage to our roads and highways making traveling extremely dangerous territory-wide," Turnbull said..
Clayton Sutton, deputy director at the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, said slides happened in St. Thomas at Tabor and Harmony, Bordeaux, Fortuna Bay, Caret Bay, along he North Side, St. Peter Mountain Road, and near Sib's Restaurant. Flooding occurred at Long Bay, Brookman, Nadir, and Fort Mylner.
"But most of the major arteries are already cleared. Now they are taking care of the pockets," Sutton said at midmorning.
Steve Clark, chief ranger at V.I. National Park on St. John, said that slides are a continual problem as the rain continues to fall. However, the park has stationed equipment at several locations along the North Shore Road so crews can quickly remove the slides.
He said the worst area is between Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay.
"We had a boulder the size of a car come down this morning," Clark said.
While Public Works Department crews appeared to be keeping up with the slides on the main roads, those in residential areas kept people home. A large slide at Ajax Peak, St. John closed the road on Thursday. Residents who hand-cleared it found the road closed again Friday.
Chuck Pishko, who lives in Fish Bay, St. John, said there were numerous slides in that area, but there were enough connecting roads so no one was trapped at home.
In St. Croix, the parking lot at Watergut Homes by the Seaborne Airlines station is filled with debris, according to Jacqueline Heyliger. Heyliger is the state hazard mitigation officer for VITEMA.
She said that she also saw debris by Beeston Hill, which is forcing motorists to drive slowly. Heyliger said that Queen Mary Highway and Melvin Evans Highway were clear
St. Croix has seen the most rain. A total of 14.29 inches fell in the past five days at Jolly Hill, with 3.2 inches falling in the last 24 hours.
St. John had 12.63 inches in the past five days at Guinea Gut. Of that figure, 4.79 inches fell in the past 24 hours.
At Bonne Resolution, St. Thomas, 10.25 inches fell in the past five days, with 2.04 inches falling in the past 24 hours.
Tourists are getting antsy, but eight of them went on a ranger-led park hike down the Reef Bay Trail. Chuck Pishko, a volunteer working the front desk at the Visitor's Center, said the hikers will have to ford streams in two places and face water two feet deep once they get to the flat area as they near Reef Bay.
"But the waterfalls will be spectacular," he said.
However, he noted that they will still be flowing once the sun comes out, which makes for less wet and risky trip.
At the Grand Bay Palace Spa and Resort in St. Thomas, sales and marketing manager Randall Doty, said guests went off to shop.
"But they're looking for sun, sand and sea," Doty said, noting that the hotel was full.
He said five outdoor weddings were scheduled for Saturday, but if the bad weather continues, they'll be held indoors instead.
Bill Young, state director of emergency services for the American Red Cross, has said that teams are out assessing damages. However, he urged residents to do what they could to protect their property.
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