July 30, 2008 — The Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency will break ground at 10 a.m. Friday on the lawn of Fort Christian to begin work on moving Christiansted's power cables underground. The public is invited.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is paying for the project through its pre-disaster mitigation grant program, said Robert Moorhead, deputy director for mitigation at VITEMA. FEMA funnels the money through VITEMA to the V.I. Water and Power Authority, which is carrying out the project.
"VITEMA has oversight of the project," Moorhead said. "The funds are here, WAPA is in the (bidding) process and are slated to start relatively soon."
The goal is to speed up the return of power to St. Croix after a major hurricane, he said.
"After Hugo we were unable to bring power back online in a timely manner," he said. "Power lines and poles were in the road and people started cutting the lines to clear the roads. Now with these buried we will be able to restore in a timely manner. Instead of 6 months for total revitalization after a complete disaster, it will more like three months." The areas that have underground cables would come back online first.
"The flip side is what this will lend to the aesthetics of Christiansted," Moorhead said. "There will be no poles or transformers. They will be all underground which increases the aesthetic value, the look of the town making it a more marketable product to the tourists, so it is a twofold benefit."
The work is being done in three phases, running concurrently, and should be fully complete in five years or possibly less Moorhead said.
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