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Saturday, September 19, 2020
Home News Local news Coast Guard sets Port Condition Whiskey; WAPA Prepares for Storm

Coast Guard sets Port Condition Whiskey; WAPA Prepares for Storm

Monday evening satellite photo shows Invest 92-L moving towards the Caribbean. (NOAA satellite photo)

The U.S. Coast Guard set Port Condition Whiskey for the maritime ports in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Monday, due to possible sustained gale force winds, greater than 39 mph, arriving in the islands within 72 hours.

The V.I. Water and Power Authority is closely monitoring the progress of Invest 92-L, which is forecast to impact the local area later this week.

Port Condition Whiskey

The captain of Port San Juan strongly cautioned the maritime community to remain vigilant to tropical wave Invest 92-L and take the necessary precautions, as there is a possibility it may continue to gain strength and further develop into a tropical storm as it approaches the area.

During Port Condition Whiskey:
– Port facilities are open to all commercial traffic and all transfer operations may continue while Whiskey remains in effect.
– Pleasure crafts should seek a safe harbor. Maritime and port facilities are reminded to review and update their heavy weather response plans and make any additional preparations needed to adequately prepare in case of a potential impact on the area.
– Mariners are reminded there are no safe havens in these facilities, and ports are safest when the inventory of vessels is at a minimum.
– All ocean-going commercial vessels greater than 500 gross tons should make plans for departing the port, any vessels wishing to remain in port are required to submit an application to the captain of the Port prior to the setting of Port Condition X-Ray.

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According to the Coast Guard news release, the captain of the Port San Juan anticipates setting Port Condition X-Ray at 2 p.m. Tuesday for the ports in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. These dates and times are subject to change based on future forecasts.

During Port Condition X-Ray, sustained winds greater than 39 mph are possible within 48 hours.

In its release, the Coast Guard also advised the public:
– Secure belongings. Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or sustaining damage.
– Trailer-able boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place not prone to flooding.
– Those leaving their boats in the water are reminded to remove EPIRBs and to secure life rings, lifejackets and small boats. These items, if not properly secured, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources to be diverted to ensure people are not in distress.
– Stay clear of beaches. Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by hurricanes.
– Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.
– Be prepared. Area residents should be prepared by developing a family plan, creating a disaster supply kit, having a place to go, securing their home and having a plan for pets. Information can be found at the National Hurricane Center’s webpage.
– Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio and internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16.

WAPA Preparation

“A significant level of preparation has already been completed, from ensuring adequate levels of supplies to support a restoration effort to drawing on increased levels of fuel storage for our power plants, and water inventory to maintain potable water service during and immediately after any storm event that may impact the territory,” Executive Director Lawrence Kupfer said in a news release issued Monday afternoon.

The news release said the Authority’s hurricane preparedness spans the gamut from lining up additional manpower and equipment to ensuring supply contracts are in place and adequate inventories of basic electric and water system supplies are on hand for any restoration effort.

“Just as every other response agency, WAPA is also facing the hurricane season amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kupfer said in Monday’s news release. “This will indeed present new challenges, but WAPA remains committed to providing electrical and water service to the greatest extent possible before, during and after any natural disaster our territory may face.”

The news release warned that should a disaster strike the territory, downed power lines and poles should not be cut or moved. All electrical equipment should be treated as fully energized and not tampered with.

“Instead, please notify our 24-hour dispatch centers at 340-774-3552 or 340-773-2250, select option 4 to report the downed or damaged equipment. These numbers may also be used to report service interruptions,” the news release said.

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