Irma Recovery Update from the St. John Community Foundation

10-4-17: SJCF-VOAD Mid-Week Update:
As the island has shifted from Emergency Response to Recovery mode, and more news is getting out of St. John, our communications will shift from daily updates to a weekly recap/forecast of basic services, while continuing to share vital updates and information on our Facebook page. We will focus on developing and facilitating collaborations for short and long term recovery efforts with local and stateside partners on behalf of the St. John Community.

Communication, Power and Security: Equipment issues on STT and STX have impaired some internet connections on St. John, however, there are several WiFi hotspots in town with service extending to the south side soon. There are spots near Ronnie’s Pizza, Connections, between the BMV building and the tennis court, and on the 3rd floor of the Marketplace. Look for VINGN-Free Public. No password is needed. To prevent slow WiFi speed, please disable automatic app updates on your phone. WAPA’s goal is to have power up in Cruz Bay to MK Clinic in two weeks, and to create a mini grid for interim/temporarily power to Coral Bay until full power can be achieved. An antenna is being installed at the Coral Bay fire station to improve communications between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay fire departments. Law enforcement continues to patrol both sides of the island 24 hours a day, and are experiencing good communications across the island.

Transportation: The curfew is officially from 7pm to 6am, and there have been no conflicts or incidents reported in relation to this. Passenger ferry hours are 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 3, 5 daily, schedule subject to change. The car barge has 3-4 trips daily; only one barge is currently operational. Speak directly to barge operators regarding daily schedule. The Coast Guard has not opened the original car barge location because the channel is blocked. Shipping companies such as Tropical and Merchants are running, however, expect delays in containers to private citizens and to businesses. Call the USVI Department of Tourism directly for information on mercy flights/cruises yet to be scheduled at 340-772-0357. The Bloomberg group is supplying fuel and drivers are donating their time for a free shuttle service between Cruz Bay ferry dock and Coral Bay fire department; two 19 passenger shuttles with pick up and drop off at 8, 9, 10 AM and 3, 4, 5PM…The airport on St. Thomas is open for business. Call individual airlines for their schedules, which are changing daily.

Mass Care, Housing, Human Services: Bethany Moravian Church Shelter is operational with approximately 14 people staying overnight. The Red Cross continues to distribute water and clean-up kits, and supports over 2,000 meals daily. Cruz Bay Landing will continue to serve Red Cross supported meals through October 11; Longboard through October 17; 420 to Center in Cruz Bay and Indigo Grill in Coral Bay have been and continue to serve meals on their own; St. John Community Foundation is working on supplementing/supporting food service in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay with details to come in next week’s update. The Coral Bay fire station is distributing rations 10-3 daily; distribution at JESS ball field form 12-3 daily. The Chesney foundation is conducting weekly evacuations according to need.

Health Care and advisories: The Chesney group reported that the clinics have received $500,000 in supplies to date. DeCastro clinic is seeing approximately 20-25 patients in Cruz Bay daily; The fire station receives about 15 patients daily. Many cases are related to people stepping on nails; proper protective footwear is encouraged. The US Public Health Service is augmenting medical service from local, John’s Hopkins and DMAT professional with trained grief and trauma counselors at the DeCastro clinic and the Coral Bay Fire Station. The New Jersesy Emergency Medical Service Task Force, a team of 11, have arrived as support. Mental health providers are helping the island heal emotionally and to manage stress effectively. They are conducting grief counseling and interventions, as well as, offering stress management tips and tools for dealing with the disaster. In a recent press conference, Police Commissioner Delroy Richards referred to incidents and arrests relating to domestic violence, and urged people seek counseling, and not to stay in a violent situation. The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a–year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to this or any disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
The National Park is advising residents to not swim in the ocean at this time. DPNR has not yet tested the waters and there is no established timeline for inspection as of yet. Swim at your own risk.

Debris Removal, Sanitation and Trash: Public Works’ current priority is trash and roadside debris removal. The Upper Carolina landslide is currently being cleared. Otherwise, roads are currently open and clear. The transfer station is closed today and will reopen on Friday, however, commercial sector is encouraged to take their bins to STT and the public is instructed to put only household waste in the bins (not landscape or construction materials), and reminded that burning debris has been prohibited in the territory. The Army Corp of Engineers will move forward with their debris mission, and the Chesney group has organized local workforce crews to work with the DIRT team.

Youth – School and Recreation: Gov Mapp is still hoping for STT/STX schools to open on October 9th, however, there is no definitive opening date for JESS as contractors fix the roof. Gift Hill School is in session from 10a-2p Mon. thru Fri. 125 are students enrolled and new student assessments are still being conducted; due to space constraints, there is a hold on admitting new students to preschool and grades 4 – 5. Parents can register their children between 8:30-9:30am or 3-4pm, they must have proof of current shots, physical exam records, and be willing complete a short interview and screening process. Volunteers are still needed at the upper campus. The Chesney group has (and continues) to make repairs the St. John Christian Academy, Gift Hill and Sprauve schools.

Business and Employment: Commissioner Catherine A. Hendry announced at the territory’s daily news conference, that all of those who are self-employed or are independent contractors and have had their ability to work disrupted by Hurricane Irma can apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. The period for those affected to apply ends Oct. 30. The USVI Dept of Labor is available 10a-2p, Mon, Wed, Fri at the STJ Legislature Building for unemployment questions. Bring your ID, Social Security Card, and a Statement of Unemployment letter.

First Bank Cruz Bay branch service from 9:30a-12:30p and ATM service from 9a-3p. The post office can take mail and packages that are fully prepared for shipping. Post office hours are 10-2. They do not currently have the resources to assist with postage, weight, measurements, etc. Open for business: Groceries: Starfish Market is open 9am-3pm, hopes to begin taking credit and is expecting delivery of provisions. Neither Coral Bay grocery store has a generator and therefore are not operational. Starfish Market, Dolphin Market, St. John Market, Pine Peace Market. Chelsea Drug, RHFP health clinic at the Marketplace, Canines Cats and Critters, St. John Insurance, Tunick Insurance, St. John Properties, Connections, St. John Hardware, Paradise Lumber, St. John Ice, E&C Service Station, Caravan Auto, Steve Simonson Photo, Papaya Cafe, Sun Dog Cafe, Chester’s Getaway, Hercules, and Calabash Market and Love City Market in Coral Bay are operational. Monsanto laundry had 3 washers and is working to get a larger generator at this time.

For a more complete listing of Businesses open on all islands go to DIRECTORY LINK: https://docs.google.com/…/1oCyqZ7hICfRsoSbgij4dPevqLY…/edit… Businesses are encouraged to go to the USVI Business Community Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/USVIbusinesscommunitystjohn/ To be included, please follow our host’s directions to Businesses/Organizations ON ISLAND: PLEASE request group membership and directly post your information: Name of Business, Location, Contact Information, Description of Services/Items available, Time Sensitive information regarding services or hours of operations, Methods of payment accepted., If items are available for purchase or offered FREE. You will receive a “post pending message and they will respond within 24 hours.

Home Assessment and Repair: Bloomberg team members are conducting door-to-door assessments and have exceeded expectations for gathering household data. 200 people on the island have linked to disaster assistance benefits. The Blue Roof program via Army Corp of Engineers is stationed at both Connections and the Coral Bay fire station, 9am-3pm. Call 888-roof-blu, or go to http://www.sad.usace.army.mil/blueroof for more information. 800-621-fema or disasterassistance.gov and DSA personnel are on-hand at the National Park gazebo and the Coral Bay fire station. The VIPD and NY State Troopers advise all citizens that as FEMA and other agencies survey and assess, they should have credentials and provide them for you if you ask. This also extends to private contractors working for these agencies.

Legal Services: Disaster Legal Services (DLS) provides legal assistance to low-income individuals who, prior to or because of the disaster, are unable to secure adequate legal services to meet their disaster related needs. The following are types of disaster legal assistance that may be available to you: Help with insurance claims for doctor and hospital bill, loss of property, loss of life, etc. • Drawing up new wills and other legal papers lost in the disaster • Help with home repair contracts and contractors • Advice on problems with landlords. For more information go to https://www.disasterlegalaid.org/

Volunteers and Donations: We are getting many generous offers from people who want to come to the island to help in the recovery efforts. However, volunteers are asked not to self-deploy; right now the few accommodations left intact are prioritized for displaced residents and federal disaster responders, who are also priority recipients of limited supplies of food, water, gasoline, etc. Please know that many aspects of this recovery will take weeks, months and even years ….and we WILL need you. Register online at https://voad.communityos.org/volunteer-registration-usvi-irma … once registered, email celia@sjcf.org and you will be contacted once public officials and disaster relief organizations have had an opportunity to assess the damage and identify what the specific unmet needs are.

Persons interested in helping can best support the relief effort by making a cash donation instead of sending donated goods and services. Cash donations to voluntary disaster relief organizations enables them to purchase exactly what is most needed – whereas donated items require voluntary agencies to spend money and considerable time for sorting, inventorying, warehousing, and distribution.

To make a donation to the Foundation for St. John IRMA relief efforts go to http://thestjohnfoundation.org/donate

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