Nov. 14, 2003 Gov. Charles W. Turnbull declared a state of emergency for the territory Friday evening as a result of this week's deluge and subsequent flooding.
At the same time he announced a curfew on St. Thomas and St. John from 8 p.m. Friday until 7 a.m. Saturday. Should conditions warrant, the governor said, the curfew could be extended.
The curfew does not apply to St. Croix, where weather conditions improved Friday afternoon.
"I am taking this action to prevent persons from driving on dangerous roads and to allow emergency workers to perform road repair," Turnbull said on WVWI Radio One at 6:45 p.m.
He said the curfew exempts taxis and tour operators who are picking up passengers from the airport, hotel workers and those traveling on the St. John ferries.
"It may inconvenience some persons," Turnbull said, "but it is necessary to protect residents. It will be lifted as soon as conditions improve." However, the governor said, "The fear is, things will worsen tonight. The weather is supposed to worsen."
The governor, VITEMA and police officials have been meeting throughout the day to assess the situation, which has steadily worsened on St. Thomas and St. John. In a 5 p.m. radio newscast, Turnbull said: "As a result of the torrential rain, some of the roads have flooded, and one or two have been wiped out. It is very dangerous to be on the roads. We had to rescue some individuals on Brookman road a few hours ago."
Police spokesman Sgt. Thomas Hannah urged people to stay put. "We are asking the motoring public to stay home unless it's an emergency," Hannah said.
Earlier in the day, Hannah said, the police were asking merchants to let employees out early. "If there is a turn for the worse," he said, "the emergency services need the roadways clear. You will be safer in your home than on the roadways." He added, "If you would do that for us, we would appreciate it."
On St. Thomas, police say they have blocked the intersection at four corners, Crown Mountain Road and Scott Free Road, with barriers. They reported St. Peter Mountain Road is under water from Mafolie to four corners, and Brookman Road is experiencing flooding.
On St. John, Administrator Julien Harley said during Radio One's 5 p.m. newscast that Centerline Road was clearing up. "Up until 2 p.m.," he said, "we were trying to clear a blockage at Starfish Market. It was cleared, but now it's all screwed up again, too."
Routes 7 and 8 heading south are passable, according to a spokesman from the National Park Service.
A Red Cross spokeswoman on St. Croix said no shelters are expected to open. She said residents should call VITEMA at 773-2244 if they think they need to be evacuated.
Also on the weather front, Delegate Donna Christensen, who is currently in Washington, D.C., said Friday evening that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is aware of the flooding situation in the Virgin Islands, and is following the storm's progress. Turnbull said, "We are making assessments today and if we find we qualify for federal aid, we will apply."
He stressed assessments are being made on all three islands, and "we will get whatever help from the federal government we can."
And there are concerns about animals.The St. Thomas-St. John Humane Society is flooded, leaving dogs in need of temporary homes.
Spokeswoman Lisa Walker said local veterinarians are taking in some animals. "Our kennels are full, and we are not in a position to board any animals," she said. Walker urged residents not to leave their pets outside should they leave their homes. "Leave them inside with food and water in a dry room," she said. "Please."
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.