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Governor Updates Territory on Omar Recovery Efforts

Oct. 20, 2008 — With an estimated $3 million tab for Hurricane Omar recovery on St. Croix, Gov. John P. deJongh said Sunday afternoon he and a team of government agencies are completely focused on getting the island back to normal as quickly as possible.
In a briefing issued after a conference call with Lt. Governor Gregory R. Francis, Mark A. Walters, state director of the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, National Guard Adjutant General Renaldo Rivera, selected members of the cabinet and Government House senior staff, deJongh said, "There are some hardships that some of our residents are going through and as a government, we are trying to ease those burdens as much as we possibly can."
DeJongh weathered Omar's winds and rain on St. Croix. Along with local efforts, deJongh said his office was exploring all options available for federal assistance as well.
Hugo Hodge Jr., Water and Power Authority executive director, said between 70 and 80 percent of St. Croix had been restored with electrical power. Hodge reported that 20 additional linemen had been deployed to St. Croix’s East End, the area hardest hit by Omar’s winds. Tree-trimming crews have also been brought in to clear branches and overgrown trees from power lines.
Hodge is still hoping to have power 90 percent restored by Monday night. But, he said it will likely be a week before the East End sees "significant" power restoration.
Given the ongoing electrical issues, deJongh has once again imposed a curfew from 1 to 6 a.m. Monday.
Schools on St. Croix will remain closed Monday, at least in part due to the previously scheduled American Federation of Teacher’s Mini Quest. Meanwhile, deJongh said stepped-up efforts were being made to restore power to St. Croix schools. He said the Education Department would release detailed information Monday.
Schools on St. Thomas and St. John will open as usual.
All government employees on St. Croix are to report to work Monday at their usual times. St. Thomas-St. John employees returned to work Friday.
Head Start Centers on St. Thomas and St. John return to normal schedule on Monday, and will reopen on St. Croix Tuesday.
Senior citizens activity centers will re-open territory-wide Monday.
And Project Homeless Connect will be held on St. Croix on Friday, October 24.
Beginning Monday, focus on roadside debris removal and collection of hurricane waste will commence at four locations: Concordia, Cotton Valley, Peter’s Rest and Mon Bijou. The bin site at Estate Slob is designated for the collection of green or yard waste by Public Works and its contractors only, the Government House statement said.
Of the 22 signalized intersections across St. Croix, nine remain without electricity; several of those that have been restored are flashing amber. Police officers will be positioned at key intersections during rush hour on Monday.
Also on Monday, officials from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, the U.S. Coast Guard and V.I. Port Authority will meet to consolidate efforts to attend to sunken vessels in Christiansted Harbor. Several boat owners have already contracted salvage firms to begin removal of sunken boats, the statement read. .
And finally, Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty is getting updated information from the hotel industry on the level of damage they sustained and what impact that will have on day-to-day operations and what assistance is available to aid in recovery.
"We have completed our fourth day of post-Omar recovery and the focus remains on St. Croix," deJongh said. "Now that the major roadways have been cleared and re-opened, our focus is now on completing the restoration of electricity, getting our public schools re-opened and beginning the process of collecting hurricane debris."
The governor weathered the storm on St. Croix.
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