Hurricane Irma 2017


Monday October 9th

See info below on disaster benefits. Also note that self employed small business owners are eligible for special FEMA unemployment benefits for many months (regular employees are too). You sign up through the VI Dept of Labor at the Cruz Bay Legislature building. MWF 10 TO 2PM. BRING ID, social security card, and something to show where you previously worked and can’t now.

Please encourage everyone to sign up with FEMA.. and don’t be discouraged by any initial responses that make it appear that you are ineligible for some kind of help…it is a long process and there are grants and/or loans to help almost everyone.
Sharon Coldren

FEMA Housing Inspectors on the Ground in U.S. Virgin Island Neighborhoods
Issued By: VITEMA
Issued On: 10/7/17 1:02 PM
Affected Jurisdictions: Virgin Islands

THIS IS A Routine Press Release
FEMA Housing Inspectors on the Ground in U.S. Virgin Island Neighborhoods
October 6, 2017

ST. CROIX, Virgin Islands – Housing inspectors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are visiting neighborhoods in the Virgin Islands to verify damages caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Inspectors will contact survivors who have registered with FEMA. They will first call survivors in advance of the visit to set up an appointment. If they are unable to reach a survivor by phone due to the current communications outages, they may visit a residence without a confirmed appointment.

The Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency has asked that survivors place visible plot numbers on their property to ensure inspectors can identify the property.

“A housing inspection is an important early step in the recovery process, as it helps us determine how FEMA and our recovery partners can best assist you,” said Federal Coordinating Officer William Vogel. “We urge residents to make themselves as readily available as they can to meet with their housing inspector.”

FEMA understands that some Virgin Islanders with property damage may have temporarily relocated off the islands. We are asking family and friends to let them know they should still register for assistance with FEMA and provide their current contact information. We will reach out to them to coordinate an inspection when it’s possible.

Inspections can only be done after survivors register. Those with damage to homes, vehicles, personal property, business or its inventory should register with FEMA. When applying, survivors will be asked to provide their current contact information so that an inspector can reach them.

When inspectors arrive at a home, they will display their official contractor photo identification. If the photo ID is not visible, it is important to ask to see it. This helps prevent fraud. Please be aware that FEMA inspectors do not charge survivors for their services or recommend specific contractors. If someone asks for money to inspect your home or promotes a contractor, it is most likely part of a scam.

Inspectors already have each applicant’s nine-digit registration number so there should be no need to ask for it. Survivors will however be asked to provide a valid driver’s license or other photo identification.

To speed the FEMA assistance process:

Ensure the house or plot number is clearly visible from the road.

Keep your appointment or notify the inspector if you need to reschedule.
· Be reachable. It helps to inform neighbors where you can be reached if your home is uninhabitable.

· Survivors who are displaced to other areas or islands may designate a relative, friend or neighbor to allow the inspector onto the property. But the designated person must be 18 years or older.

· Provide proof of ownership, such as a tax bill, deed, mortgage payment receipt or insurance policy with the property’s address. Renters must show proof of occupancy, such as a lease, rent payment receipt or utility bill.

FEMA will only provide assistance for a primary residence. However, survivors may be eligible for a low-interest disaster loan.

· If possible, provide photos of the damage that can supplement the images taken by the inspector.

An inspection generally takes about 15-30 minutes to complete. Keep in mind that inspectors do not determine an applicant’s eligibility for assistance. They just enter the information electronically into FEMA computers. Their job is to verify disaster damage, but they do not need to document all damage. They review damage to structures, major appliances, septic systems and wells.

No need to wait, begin cleaning up now. Survivors should begin cleaning up without worrying about losing out on disaster assistance.

“We understand that residents want to get their hurricane-damaged homes cleaned up as soon as possible,” said Vogel. “You don’t need to wait for us to get start cleaning up. Just be sure to document the damage.”

For those with Communication Needs. Disaster survivors with communication-related disabilities — those who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or have vision loss and those with speech difficulties — may request accommodations to aid in communication. For instance, survivors may request an American Sign Language interpreter when registering. (They should also verify the accommodation with the inspector when contacted.)

Registration with FEMA can be completed online at, in Spanish at, or by phone at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services may call 800-621-3362.

The toll-free telephone numbers operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice. Operators are standing by to assist survivors in English, Spanish and many other languages.

Friday Sept 28nd

As of September 28th, Coral Bay still has no cell service or internet, not to mention electric and few generators. We are strong, outlook positive… and looking forward to your help to rebuild. Please donate dollars to established organizations or to help individuals that you know, rather than to unknown gofundme accounts. You can donate, tax deductible, via paypal with no fees, with our donate button on the CBCC website. Please put hurricane relief in memo or purpose line. It’s easy and will help us all. More details when we get internet in a week or two.
Thank you,
Sharon Coldren and the CBCC board.

Friday Sept 22nd

Some limited Wi-Fi in Coral Bay via Fire Station and Navy now. A little more destruction after Maria, but roads no worse.
Everyone came through safe.  We now hopefully can start to rebuild. Support us by donating $ to known nonprofit organizations via our websites, or by directly supporting individuals you know. Specify for hurricane recovery.
Thank you
Sharon Coldren

Wednesday Sept 20th

Hurricane Irma did major damage to all St. John and St. Thomas, and two weeks later Hurricane Maria compounded that damage and also did major damage to our sister island St. Croix… which reached out to us on St. John and Coral Bay with private boat loads of assistance in the early days after Irma… and now need help themselves…that we cannot directly provide due to our lost boats and low provisions.

We will all come through this …stronger than before, with everyone’s assistance and donations. We are resilient. If you are reading this, please provide assistance as you can, and check back often as we detail specific ways you can help fill the gaps around the forthcoming government help. There will be a lot of help from FEMA and the Military, the US Army Corp. And private foundations…we just don’t know exactly what the scope of the help is, and what extra help we can collectively supply.

CBCC’s office has survived and has been offered to the above agencies as a site for their coordination of services. More on this as we know more..

I am writing this, as Maria passes over in a smartphone email to be sent when I get a connection .. to our webmaster, Jean Vance, who is fortunately off island right now. Please note that Coral Bay has no communications yet, still at least several days away.  May everyone be safe.

Written Sept. 20th,
Sharon Coldren

9-20 MARIA-IRMA update from SJCF-VOAD

“Many Islands. One Love” A few short and intermittent Satellite phone calls and posts have come in this morning after Maria passed south of St. John and made landfall in Puerto Rico at 6:15 this morning. The 11:11 AM VITEMA Alert reported steady strong winds up to from 35 with gusts up to 50 mph for the next few hours in STT/STJ. As expected there was, and continues to be, showers and scattered thunderstorms with flooding in guts and low lying areas. Storm surge reportedly left most of the barges on STJ inoperable. Residents are asked to stay inside while the 1st responders clear the roads and assist where needed. .Supplies were topped off before Maria, military and emergency responders are being redeployed, and communications are expected to resume in a slow but progressive manner. More news as connectivity improves.

We are getting many generous offers from people who want to come to the island to help in the recovery efforts. However, 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 . 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 Hurricane Irma/Maria disaster response in St. John can best support the relief effort by making a cash donation instead of sending donated goods and services at this point in time. 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 of smaller shipments. We will get to the point of being able to do this for donations in the coming weeks, and continue to get and appreciate bulk containers of building materials and non-perishables.

The amazing St. Johnians who have self-organized and taken it upon themselves to help each other continue to be nothing less than awe-inspiring! We are creating an inventory to share with the stateside Adopt-A-Family program for St. John families and will share details as it comes together; this kind of support will be needed for months and we would eventually like to hook you up directly with these families so you can maintain a more long-term connection with them. Until we are able to ensure efficient mail delivery, and communications are improved, we gratefully rely on federal responders and bulk deliveries of supplies from private entities to sustain immediate needs.

We will be back in response mode for the next several days, while at the same time continue to focus on long term recovery with experienced partners who have bounced back themselves after similar disasters. Support coming in now will help us revive and rebuild in what is going to be a long road ahead.

To make a donation to the Foundation for St. John IRMA-MARIA relief efforts (PayPal is waiving all fees) go to

Celia Kalousek
Director, St. John Community Foundation
USVI VOAD BOD; St. John VOAD Lead (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster)
Office: 340-693-9410 or Cell: 340-643-0019

Friday Sept 22nd

Some limited Wi-Fi in Coral Bay via Fire Station and Navy now. A little more destruction after Maria, but roads no worse.
Everyone came through safe.  We now hopefully can start to rebuild. Support us by donating $ to known nonprofit organizations via our websites, or by directly supporting individuals you know. Specify for hurricane recovery. 
Thank you
Sharon Coldren 

Hurricane Maria 2017