Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. met with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell while in Washington on Friday to discuss the progress of ongoing recovery projects in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Friday’s meeting continued the ongoing discussion between the governor and the administrator on the progress of critical recovery projects funded by FEMA and the pace of the agency’s various approval processes.
In May 2021, Bryan met with Administrator Criswell at Government House on St. Croix where they discussed the CLOMAR (Conditional Letter of Map Revision) permit for the Paul E. Joseph Stadium project, concerns regarding the territory’s hospitals, the status of school reconstruction, and the upgrading the wastewater and drinking water systems in the territory.
In Oct. 2021, the U.S. Virgin Islands received approval of the CLOMAR for the Paul E. Joseph Stadium that allows the construction of the stadium to resume, and it recently received approval from FEMA for $242 million to fund the construction of the New Arthur A. Richards K-8 School.
In December, FEMA also approved the replacement of the entire sewer system on the island of St. Croix after it determined that the island’s sewer sheds are eligible for replacement following the 2017 hurricanes.
Bryan thanked administrator Criswell for the agency’s continued support but expressed concern with the pace of fixed cost offers affecting the territory’s most critical projects, which include schools and hospitals.
During Friday’s meeting, the governor also reiterated his push for a waiver to the 10% cost-share required by the federal government for the funding of those projects, noting that without the waiver, the territory will have to pay hundreds of millions in local funds to receive the funding approved for its recovery projects.
Without this waiver, the V.I. will have to utilize more than $500 million in Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (HUD CDBG-DR) funds that can be otherwise utilized for much-needed housing and capital improvement projects,” Bryan said.
While FEMA was non-committal on the cost-share waiver, the administrator agreed to review an appeal submitted by the governor on Dec. 27, 2021.
The administrator and her leadership team also committed to reviewing their processes in an effort to move the territory’s projects forward in a more expeditious manner.
The Bryan-Roach Administration is investing in the territory’s people, infrastructure and future through transparency, stabilizing the economy, restoring trust in the government and ensuring that recovery projects are completed as quickly as possible.