Hurricane Recovery Update – June 7th
Beginning Wednesday, June 6th, FREE MULCH will be distributed at the Coral Bay Agriculture Center (across from Love City market). Pick up between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Bring your own truck or containers and shovel. For more information, contact Raymond Thomas at 340-423-9022.
The IRS Income Tax Deadline for the US Virgin Islands has been extended to June 29, 2018. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/help-for-victims-of-hurricanes-irma-and-maria
For MEDICAL CARE, contact the Morris de Castro Clinic in Cruz Bay at 340-776-6400 or call Dr. Joseph De James at 340-244-5217.
BARGES – finally got a full schedule – but heads up – no more shared tickets for round-trips with two barge companies. https://www.stjohntradewinds.com/love-city-car-ferries-amends-ticketing-policy/ Perhaps buy one way tickets for now… Join the “St. John Car Barge Schedule” facebook page for updates from the public about barge statuses: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1300284193364752/
HELP FOR YOUR HOME CLEANUP & REPAIR: Volunteer nonprofit groups AmeriCorps and All Hands & Hearts Smart Response have teamed up to continue to assist St. John residents clean up after the hurricanes. This is FREE assistance. If you: have mold in your home or need debris clean-up, part or all of your home gutted, or tree removal, they can help. They don’t provide dumpsters or transportation to the Transfer Station, but they will pile debris for you to have hauled away later by a trucking company you hire. They have chainsaws, etc. & are eager to help. So place this call if you need assistance & tell a friend – they will help many homeowners who are not eligible for direct government aid. Call Mike, Director of USVI Operations at 859-967-8518 or 340-776-2099.
All Hands and Hearts (alhandsandhearts.org) is also seeking volunteers. Please contact them if you can lend a hand, and spread the word.
DEBRIS ANGELS TO THE RESCUE – MY ST JOHN/HURRICANE IRMA RECOVERY STORY – THANK YOU "ALL HANDS AND HEARTS"
Want to Volunteer? Check out our list of who’s looking for assistance and how you can help: https://coralbaycommunitycouncil.org/hurricane-relief-volunteering/
Assistance for Private Road Repairs from FEMA: If you want to apply to FEMA for Individual Assistance for repairs to a driveway or privately-owned access road, please contact our office. Here is a template letter that you (and your neighbors who share this roadway) can use: FEMA Road Assistance Letter – Template. Damage must be hurricane-related, the road must be to your primary residence, and you must not have received the maximum allowable amount for individual assistance ($33,000). Find more information here: https://coralbaycommunitycouncil.org/hurricane-recovery-2/private-road-assistance-for-residents-from-fema/
The owner of the former big tower for AT&T and other carriers on Bordeaux Mountain is actively working on reconstructing a larger tower to extend the reach further. VIYA is not likely to make it to Coral Bay for several months. www.Broadband.VI and www.LCCN.vi are both providing wireless internet services to new customers in Coral Bay.
Neighborhood Crime Watch: We need to be aware. People are reporting thefts of tools and small items from near roadsides on their properties and occasional burglaries – keep things out of sight. We know a lot of strangers are working everywhere to clean up debris and get us recovered. Give everyone who comes into your neighborhood a big friendly hello, so they know you have seen them. Keep a pad in your vehicle to write down license plates of suspicious vehicles and date and time, if something happens. Remember the basic crime watch rules – they really help.
FOR THOSE WHO MISSED THIS AND ARE STILL SPENDING TIME ON PHONE WITH AT&T – Here is message again–please share with those who need it:
AT&T Cell Billing and Service Problems. CBCC has gotten a lot of complaints about this. We passed it forward, and here’s the solution (it does work): send an email with your name on account and your phone number along with a brief description of your problems to Beau Bymers in the Office of the President at AT&T and copy CBCC and Cecile O’Neill, District Counsel, VI Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs.
Three email addresses–send one email to all: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Cecile.Oneill@dlca.vi.gov.
This will ensure follow-up by DLCA on all the problems, and help push for better AT&T corporate policies.
The Emergency Prescription Assistance Program has been extended to May 15th. The EPAP allows enrolled retail pharmacies to process prescriptions for certain drugs, specific medical supplies, vaccines and some forms of durable medical equipment for eligible individuals in federally-identified disaster areas. Individuals can apply by calling 855-793-7470. More info at www.phe.gov/epap.
LAST CALL FOR LARGE DEBRIS PICKUP! The phone number for debris pickup is active again: 340-643-3296. Hurricane debris including metal, construction supplies, furniture and vegetation will be removed by the Army Corps contractors on any public or private roads, by the roadside (unless there is a gated entrance). It is best to sort the debris by type. CBCC will keep pushing on your behalf, but CALL. EXTENSION FOR PLACING BY ROADS TIL FEBRUARY 28th! –Keep it coming down…
New LED street lights are going in. Very bright, but looks like less light pollution.
New Facebook St. John Gardeners Group – Jeanie Williamson has volunteered to moderate a new and enthusiastic gardening group on St. John. Thinking about making wicking grow box planters–using hurricane scrap wood–terraced gardens, planting food, swapping seeds…join the group!
As you rebuild, think about ways you or others can RE-USE plywood, roofing, other lumber—maybe for your new garden planter boxes?
CBCC has a temporary staff person, Deborah Ramsay, interfacing with volunteer groups arriving and matching them with needs in our community, for site cleanup and repairs. Stop by the office or email CBCC if you need help.
Email Phishing Fraud – watch out – recently I received two emails that look like they were from close friends – but one letter different in email address – and they use my name – and ask me to look at a video – or check out an odd link. But it was not something expected from that friend, so I got suspicious and saw it was not really their email address, just close … and if I had opened those links – instead of deleting the email – who knows what bad things would have happened to my computer. Clicking on the links can install malware – so don’t get curious – it will be too late. Just delete. More info: https://www.agingcare.com/
Need Help?: The FEMA Disaster Recovery Center and SBA center next to our office closed Jan. 13. call or stop in the DRC). In partnership with AmeriCorps, the St. John Recovery Team’s Disaster Case Managers will be at CBCC every Wednesday 10a-2p. Stop by or make an appointment for an intake assessment, on-site home assessment, debris removal, mold suppression, clean & clear, or other needs! For appointments, contact the Disaster Case Managers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 340-643-9388.
Stop by the CBCC office if you need something–from 9 to 5 weekdays. We may be able to help you get it! For those who have much, thank you for the dollar donations and assistance you’ve already given, and please consider continuing to provide funding support for CBCC so our collective support for the community can continue–with less fundraising costs.
Free Medical Outreach Services – Free medical outreach services are available the 1st Thursday of every month at the Morris DeCastro Clinic from 9-4. They will have nurses, a doctor and a physician’s assistance on site. Come get your immunization shots for flu, pneumonia and Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP). They are also offering physical exams, blood sugar testing and diabetes counseling, blood pressure tests and counseling, help for people with symptoms of depression, medicines of common use if necessary, guidance on the use and management of drinking water, and diet consultations. Press release here
Lameshur Road is open – As of January 29th, the road is now accessible.
Maho Bay Parking lot is closed for improvements starting February 5. It will re-open soon.
The IRS Income Tax Deadline for the US Virgin Islands has been extended to June 29, 2018. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/help-for-victims-of-hurricanes-irma-and-maria
Tax season is approaching. If you sustained damages to your home and/or business, you may deduct the loss or partial loss of personal and business use property on your individual
federal income tax return.
Disaster Resource Guide for Individuals and Businesses:
This resource guide provides information to individuals and businesses affected by a federally declared disaster and the assistance available to disaster victims.
Publication 584: Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook (Personal-Use Property)
This workbook is designed to help you figure your loss on personal-use property in the event of a disaster, casualty, or theft. It contains schedules to help you figure the loss to your main home, its contents, and your motor vehicles. Use the workbook to help you complete Form 4684.
Publication 584-B: Business Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook
This workbook is designed to help you figure your loss on business and income-producing property in the event of a disaster, casualty, or theft. It contains schedules to help you figure the loss to your office furniture and fixtures, information systems, motor vehicles, office supplies, buildings, and equipment. Use the workbook to help you complete Form 4684.
Form 4684: Casualties and Thefts
Instructions for Form 4684
Below is an ARCHIVE of some of CBCC’s early email messages out to our community:
State of the Territory Address – On January 22nd, Governor Mapp made his 4th State of the Territory address. He spoke about budget and federal disaster relief funds, reconstruction of schools and medical and mental health facilities, the status of tax refunds, the issue of vegetative debris removal, and more. He announced that FEMA approved an initial $600 million budget to fund the Sheltering & Temporary Essential Power Program (STEP) to provide roofs for approximately 12,000 homes throughout the Territory. The VI Housing Finance Authority should announce registration centers for this program sometime this week. Read more in the VI Source: https://stjohnsource.com/2018/01/23/state-of-the-territory-mapp-defines-scope-of-the-recovery/
Mailing and Shipping – Are you planning to send items to yourself on island or have friends mail you a package? Instead of a using a cardboard box, pack everything into a heavy-duty plastic storage bin and wrap it with USPS-approved packing tape. When it arrives, you’ll have a waterproof container to reuse and won’t be left with cardboard to throw away
Boat Salvaging and Removal: FEMA funded work for boat salvage & and removal, managed by DPNR has been successfully completed for St. John, outside of the National Park. If you have a boat still in National Park waters, and have not done so, please contact NPS at Caribbean_Recovery@nps.gov or call (321) 421-9686 immediately. (The deadline for boats located in park waters to be declared abandoned was January 31).
WAPA “No Customer Left Behind” NEW: On Thursday 12/28, WAPA began its “No Customer Left Behind” campaign, aimed at reconnecting all customers who can be restored to the electric grid and who may have been bypassed during the first phase of service restoration. It is principally completed! If you still don’t have power, here is the contact info: The No Customer Left Behind telephone hotline number for St. John is: 340-715-8020. Be ready with your customer information. The customer service office on St. John at The Marketplace is open from 9AM to 4PM Monday through Friday with all services available.
FEMA and SBA:
FEMA Disaster Assistance Center: The deadline to register for disaster assistance with FEMA was January 8th. The FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) in our building closed on Jan. 13. For assistance with appeals, visit the Cruz Bay DRC or call 800-621-3362. Anyone in need of help is encouraged to visit the St. John Community Foundation Support Center at The Marketplace in Cruz Bay. They will also be in Coral Bay Wednesdays from 10:00AM to 2:00PM. Schedule an appointment in advance.
FEMA Disaster Assistance Appeals: Were you turned down for disaster assistance or do you disagree with the amount you were granted? Read the communication carefully. Routinely, you need to file appeals and more documentation, so persist! Stop by the FEMA DRC to work with an agent or create or log in to your Disaster Recovery account online. Information on filing an appeal can be found here: How to Appeal a FEMA Disaster Assistance Decision. Here is a template you can use for your appeal letter: FEMA Appeal Template
SBA Disaster Loans for Homeowners and Business Owners: Everyone, including HOMEOWNERS and RENTERS, must apply for an SBA loan in order to qualify for FEMA disaster assistance funds. Visit the SBA in the same office as FEMA DRC for help with the loan application process. Low interest rate loans are available for homeowners who have sustained damage to their dwellings and/or personal property. Loans are also available for business owners and renters. More information: SBA Home and Property Disaster Loan. Apply online at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
General Useful Info:
Electricity, Requests for Hookup, Weatherheads: WAPA resumed billing on December 18th. Current bills represent charges for electrical and potable water service provided prior to September 6th. Customers can pay bills online at www.viwapa.vi or at the St. John Customer Service Office at The Marketplace, which is offering limited service on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays from 10AM to 3PM.
Public Transportation: St. John bus services (VITRAN) is running on a limited basis. The bus leaves Salt Pond at 7 am and 9am. Leaves Cruz Bay at 6 am and 8 am. In afternoon, Leaves Cruz Bay at 3:25pm and 5:25 pm, and Leaves Salt Pond at 4 and 6 pm. No more Bloomberg Shuttle.
Mail Services: Mail is flowing normally. Connections East is open 11AM to 5PM and mail and packages are being delivered. Keep Me Posted is closed, but their mail is being forwarded to Connections East. The Post Office is also open and you can mail packages. St. John Biz Center (formerly PostNet) at The Marketplace is also open.
Batteries: We still have some D batteries, generously donated by Kenny Chesney’s Love for Love City Foundation through a partnership with Duracell – stop by and get some at our office!
Internet Service: You can access free WiFi outside of our office. Look for the DIRT network. No login or password required.
Emergencies: Fire station personnel have moved the Calabash Boom Community Center, and the fire station is closed for repairs. In emergency, you can go to Calabash for assistance, or use cell to call 340-776-9110 – which will reach 911 on St. Thomas, even if you are using BVI cell.
Hurricane Recovery Update – November 11
Hello Coral Bay –
Best News!!! WAPA and BBC, the linemen contractors, are working hard on getting new electric poles up in Coral Bay and bringing power up the North Shore Rd. to Coral Bay – it looks like the basic backbone of power may be in Coral Bay – all the way to Calabash Boom very soon.
When you have finished reading, go here to see photos and more explanations on some of these topics. https://www.facebook.com/CoralBayCommunityCouncil/
Communications…. Soon come (all I can say)… And the wifi at the Firestation appears to be permanently down. Only choice right now is going to town or BVI signal. I hope some organization is addressing this, but have not heard back.
EMERGENCIES: Fire station personnel have moved the Calabash Boom Community Center, and the fire station is closed for repairs. In emergency, you can go there for assistance, or use cell to call 340-776-9110 – which will reach 911 on St. Thomas, even if you are using BVI cell. FEMA also has a 24 hour security guard outside their office in our building who MIGHT be able to assist you in communications. During office hours, there is a satellite phone at CBCC for emergencies. Police are patrolling in their vehicles, and some National Guard MPs are on island to help.
Dolphin Market has reopened at Cocolobo – lots of fresh stuff!
Air flights: Tips to know right now: Spirit is selling tickets for their 5:20pm flight out, then repeatedly (always so far) changing departure to 11:20am just a day or two before – and maybe not even emailing you… Departure from Ft. Lauderdale also moved up to about 6 am! American Airlines sells tickets for two flights a day from Miami to STT, and generally cancels the second one, so unless you have lots of flexibility, you might want to book the earlier one.
Now the prickly one: Debris Clearing and Removal: YES – it finally started happening in Coral Bay this week. Unfortunately for the next several months our iconic ballfield will be the central site for Coral Bay. Everything here is a compromise – and this really is the best place we have right now for environmentally safe and convenient aggregation and separation and containerization of the hurricane debris by FEMA and the Army Corps. Much better than the “sea of mud” area they first tried up the valley by Centerline that drains sediment into the bay – and will need to be repaired and mitigated (another story.)
Take your hurricane debris – metal, construction supplies, furniture, vegetation to public roadsides where it can be safely left, if you can. A good place that will be cleaned repeated by the FEMA contractors is across the road from the main Coral Bay Waste Bin site – on the roadside by our little wetlands park (that was completely hurricane destroyed and will have to be restored later.) The manmade debris will all be shipped off island by FEMA for disposal. There are also likely to be efforts by the Chesney Foundation to clear debris from secondary roadsides, ask the DIRT people when they are in your neighborhood. Rental Villas, and reconstruction of homes contracts – all the removed debris must be hauled to Bovoni on St. Thomas – and paid for – in your insurance settlement and construction contract.
The tree limbs, stumps and brush that are collected are currently planned to be burned at the ballfield in a bin device called “air curtain burning” which has been used by the Army Corps in other disaster cleanup settings. Google it. It is high temperature burning that is not intended to produce visible or smellable smoke. Some people would prefer that all of this waste be ground up into wood chips and composted territory wide. There are numerous pros and cons to both approaches, and I have been doing some web research on this, in part because I am concerned that emotional responses are being sought in some of the social media on this “burning” approach, rather than seeking the actual experiences in other places, and taking into account the large land area needed for compost, time to process compost, and negative environmental consequences to coral and other marine life if a large amount of wood chips and soil nutrients created by composting reach our bay in stormwater run-off. For those of you off-island who may have personal experience or knowledge on these topics – please share that with CBCC, so we can make an informed decision about whether air curtain burning of vegetative debris or mulching the debris for composting (or a combination) will be a better alternative for efficient and safe cleanup of this debris. Many things in life are compromises – and this is likely to be one – let’s do it wisely, based on facts, and expertise on the ground, and answers to questions, without emotion. We have all suffered emotionally enough.
Time to become a CBCC member for 2018: Go to CBCC’s website or stop by the office and join!
The mini- Bizarre Bazaar, the CBCC Annual Meeting, and a wonderful community get-together is being planned by Bob DeBonis and his committee for Saturday, December 9th, at Pickles. So please volunteer to help make this a great event – if you can. And plan to be there – more info as it approaches and we see what facilities we might have – like electricity??? Stop by the office to volunteer and let us know what you would like to do.
Help Santa distribute toys to children on December 9th. Buy a toys now, wrap them (or not) and mark with boy/girl and appropriate age – and send to CBCC by priority mail THIS WEEK! at 9901 Emmaus, St. John VI 00830. Also if someone is willing to buy a lot of transistor radios and ship them – CBCC will pay for these — the children – living in homes with no electricity have asked for them — so they can hear the world and music… email us if you can.
Boaters rescuing your boats – or acknowledging they may not be savable – it is very important to contact the coast guard at email@example.com or call (340) 423-6353 , if your boat is in territorial waters. If it is in National Park waters—contact the National Park at Caribbean_Recovery@nps.gov. Let’s get the right thing to happen for all the unsalvageable boat wrecks and have them removed with FEMA paying for it. And if you are trying to keep your boat, please read the full information here:https://coralbaycommunitycouncil.org/boating-regulations-around-st-john-2/removing-and-salvaging-hurricane-wrecked-boats/ or stop by CBCC’s office for hard copies. Also be sure to register with FEMA, especially if you lived aboard. You qualify for assistance in the same way you would with a land-based home.
FEMA – reminder – There is a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center, including SBA personnel, in our building open 8 to 5 Monday through Saturday, to help you though this complicated process. USE it — so they will be able to show that it is worth having and keeping in Coral Bay for a few months.
And a word of thanks and recognition to our veterans and our military who have been assisting us throughout the hurricane recovery. And of course thank you to all of you who are supporting all of us who love Coral Bay.
For your CBCC board and staff,
Go here to see photos and more explanations on some of these topics. https://www.facebook.com/CoralBayCommunityCouncil/
Thursday October 26th
We haven’t sent a newsletter in a while, due to the continuing communications “void” after the storm – and the need to keep communicating here on St. John using our Coral Bay Community Council voice. We keep expecting cell service and real wifi to be delivered to Coral Bay by AT&T and Broadband VI and by several disaster relief nonprofit organizations working hard on St. John – but they all continue to run into parts issues and operational problems that they did not anticipate – so “waiting” is the key word for our Coral Bay populace. Right now, Text to cell phone numbers, occasional WIFI calling and short emails do get through at the one WIFI point at the Coral Bay Firestation. Don’t expect people to be able to use weblinks, unless they are going all the way to St. Thomas – where smart phones and computers are working pretty well. Cruz Bay is so -so, but intended to improve shortly. Red Hook is pretty good.
You may know more than we do about the overall conditions in the VI, since we cannot routinely see any of the on-line or other news sources.
The Coral Bay Community Council office is in a building that will be getting a donated generator because FEMA will have a Disaster Recovery Center to serve people in the building, CBCC is running a contributed goods distribution center and because CBCC will offer a full access WIFI point for people in Coral Bay – using our computers or your own – as soon as the generator and WIFI capacity reaches us.
Check CBCC’s facebook page for updated info on businesses in operation (as well as business Facebook pages)– a few highlights below:
Mail is starting to flow again, and more businesses are open in Coral Bay. Connections East and Keep Me Posted are open and can only accept stamped mail right now to go out. (probably not outgoing packages yet – due to post office constraints.) Mail and packages are being delivered.
Donated generators are being installed at the two grocery stores – which are still not fully operational. This has been labelled a Priority. The Bloomberg Foundation Team and Kenny Chesney Foundation are taking this responsibility – as well as repairs to some of the business establishments and some people’s homes – according to the recommendations of their hired disaster specialists – how to get St. John running again.
Oasis is serving food from 11-5 daily, Wok on the Beach restaurant (old Voyages building) is serving Breakfast 7-11. Lunch – dinner 11-5. Thirsty Donkey has happy hour 2-5 daily. And Indigo Grill will open shortly.
Vanessa’s Mumbo Jumbo store is reopening so you can buy t-shirts and clothes, etc. Skinny Legs is “working on it.. “
BOATERS: If your boat was beached or sunk in Coral Harbor or elsewhere in Coral Bay – but not Hurricane Hole – please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org which is being monitored by the Coast Guard. You can also call 340-423-6353. A flyer with detailed info can be picked up at the CBCC office and will be sent via email shortly. The Coast Guard needs to know your intentions for the boat – and you don’t have to decide right away – just let them know which boat and how to contact you – to start right now.
If your boat was beached or sunk in Hurricane Hole or elsewhere in National Park, please do the same thing to this corrected email address: Caribbean_recovery@NPS.gov. More detailed info will be emailed shortly for all boaters.
Thank you to everyone who has made donations thus far to the Coral Bay Community Council and to other organizations for “hurricane relief”. And thank you to those who have brought down a suitcase of requested donated goods – like solar and battery lanterns and extension cords and more. And to those people who have reached out to individuals who need help in Coral Bay—and addressed their needs directly. It is all of these gifts that help all of us here continue to strive to work together – in a positive manner — to recover. https://coralbaycommunitycouncil.org/ to donate or learn new things about CBCC.
Cruz Bay “downtown” is supposed to be getting electric power from St. Thomas this week – and it will continue out towards the Myra Keating clinic. So many of the Cruz Bay restaurants and other businesses will be normalizing pretty quickly now.
We are told by WAPA and the Governor that there will be a backbone of electricity in Coral Bay by Christmas and some neighborhoods then or soon after. A number of rental villas are “ready to go” –as soon as power is restored or owners get reliable generator/solar power. Please tell your friends that they will be able to enjoy a St. John Vacation this winter – just wait a little while to book – so you can see what your choices are. Beaches are already open for swimming, and Reef Bay trail is being cleared… more each day… And the views are incredible already!
The toll on the wildlife – particularly birds that eat native berries and fruits – is significant. But it is gratifying to see flowers popping up along the roadside, even flamboyant trees – at this unusual time of the year as their biological clocks say “reproduce…recover… recreate nature’s bounty…and beauty!”
Help restore native vegetation in your home garden – stop by CBCC’s office for a free copy of the book “Landscaping for Erosion Control” or see it on our website here: https://coralbaycommunitycouncil.org/landscaping-sediment-reduction/ Many of these recommended plants provide berries and fruits for birds and other creatures.
Generator Use – Please be Very Safe. Do not refuel while the generator is running, or when it is hot. The smartest time is before you use it each time – when you check fuel level and oil. Also please respect others trying to sleep and don’t run your generator all night. Waste oil – you will be changing oil after 5 to 10 hours (very important) – and then at regular intervals – according to your manual. Please read closely so your generator will last! Save the waste oil – do not pour on the ground or put in regular trash. We are arranging for an environmentally safe disposal site with EPA – hopefully in Coral Bay!
For all of you who are off-island now: We are all “camping” in our homes, or partial homes, and it will be like this for several more months. So if you are coming down soon, be prepared for this reality in Coral Bay. Around Christmas time it should start getting better.
Saturday, December 9th was originally going to be the CBCC Bizarre Bazaar date. Instead there will be a scaled down version combined with CBCC’s “Annual Meeting” – which has always been a potluck. Whatever we do –it will be a fun celebration for all of us in Coral Bay. We need some volunteers to help with this– and make it a great day. Stop by the CBCC office and speak to Michelle Bransom of our staff — who has been a champion through this whole recovery operation for Coral Bay at our office.
That’s all for now….
Living strong …
Sharon Coldren and your CBCC board and staff
Tuesday October 24th
Monday October 23rd
Post Irma: Coral Bay to East End Video by Jenn Manes with introduction by Sharon Coldren our Volunteer President of Coral Bay Community Council.
Sunday October 22nd
10-22-2017 SJCF-VOAD Notices Part 4: FEMA Updates and News for Individual and Business Support
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to coordinate the federal response effort, working with the territorial government, federal and local partners as well as the private sector and voluntary organizations to help restore essential services to the islands and meet survivors’ recovery needs.
The initial efforts at rebuilding our Virgin Islands will be supported by FEMA grants and loans, insurance proceeds, and charitable donations. Physically rebuilding our community is one of the important tasks ahead. The local press reports estimates of infrastructure and economic loss exceeding $5.5 billion dollars. If accurate, it suggests that Irma and Maria, in a period of little more than 48 hours destroyed 584 days of economic productivity.
Survivors of hurricanes Irma and Maria in the U.S. Virgin Islands have until December 18 to register for assistance with FEMA. FEMA has granted the territorial government’s request to extend the deadlines and make the deadline the same for both disasters. “We understand that the ongoing communications challenges and power outages have made it difficult for some Virgin Islanders to register with FEMA, and we want to ensure everyone has an opportunity,” said FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer William Vogel.
Survivors who have connectivity may register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362. Individuals who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 800-462-7585 directly. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) 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. Operators are standing by to assist survivors in multiple languages.
Survivors may be eligible for grants to repair and rebuild their homes and/or replace essential personal property. FEMA grants do not have to be repaid, but they cannot duplicate benefits from other sources, such as insurance coverage. FEMA assistance is nontaxable and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid or other federal benefits.
The extension also gives survivors more time to apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the federal government’s primary source of money for long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or damaged personal property.
Survivors may visit a Disaster Recovery Center, call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or visitwww.sba.gov/disaster for more information about disaster loans. You may also send an email with questions email@example.com. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call 800-877-8339. Applicants may apply online using SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
FEMA recovery specialists are also setting up the Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) to help residents face to face with information and questions about their registration. Cruz Bay location is the VI Legislature building and in Coral Bay at the Town & Country Building across from the Fire Station. Details on opening days and times to be announced.
Recovery specialists from FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are available to provide information on the types of help available, assistance with filling out applications and answer questions. The center will offer one-on-one support to homeowners, renters and small-business owners as a result of the major disaster declarations stemming from the hurricanes. Representatives from the SBA are providing information about low-interest disaster loans to individual survivors, as well as businesses, to repair or rebuild their homes. You can find them at the Nation Park Dock Gazebo from 9am-4pm Monday – Friday.
The SBA program offers low interest loans and offers loans for renters and homeowners for physical losses to buildings and rental property. Loan amounts are up to $200,000 for individuals depending on damages. Staff is on hand to intake new people. This is not FEMA registration. Homeowners need to have their FEMA number to apply for a loan, however, business owners don’t have to have a FEMA number first.
FEMA is committed to working with the U.S. Virgin Islands government, survivors and partners across the whole community to help restore and rebuild. FEMA housing inspectors have been visiting neighborhoods across the territory to verify hurricane damage as an important step in getting more assistance to survivors. With nearly 2,700 home inspections now complete FEMA has authorized more than $1.4 million in survivor housing assistance. Word is also spreading about SBA low-interest disaster loans as well. So far, survivors have been approved $4.6 million in disaster loans to repair and rebuild their homes. FEMA’s Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) and Disability Integration teams have been fanning out across the islands for weeks, meeting survivors, helping them register for assistance and providing answers to their questions. DSA personnel have met with more than 13,000 people and registered nearly 7,000 for FEMA assistance territory wide.
Because of the severe challenges on the islands, FEMA activated its Critical Needs Assistance program, which gets emergency funding into the hands of survivors as quickly as possible to take care of urgent needs, such as food, medical care and transportation. So far, nearly $2.5 million is going to survivors for critical needs. This is in addition to repair grants or housing assistance they may receive.
Time is running out for Virgin Island hurricane survivors to sign up with Operation Blue Roof for free temporary roofing repairs to their homes. Friday, November 3, is the final day for residents on all U.S. Virgin Islands to apply. ROEs are being collected at the Legislature building 9am-12pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for Operation Blue Roof. There is also a team in working out of Coral Bay. Bring a photo identification, a property tax bill and, if possible, a photograph of the damaged roof for property identification.
Operation Blue Roof is carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in partnership with FEMA and the U.S. Virgin Islands government to provide homeowners affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria with fiber-reinforced blue plastic sheeting to cover their damaged roofs until permanent repairs can be made. USACE has received more than 4,106 requests for assistance and covered 893 homes and facilities with the blue plastic reinforced sheeting.
Survivors are warned to be aware of scams. Operation Blue Roof is a free service. If survivors are asked to pay, they are not dealing with USACE’s Operation Blue Roof. Homeowners must sign a Right of Entry (ROE) form that allows USACE staff on the property to assess roof damage and install the plastic sheeting. It generally takes about eight days for a USACE representative to visit the home once the ROE is signed, and the installation will be done about two weeks later. Survivors can help USACE locate their residence by placing visible addresses or plot numbers on their property.
Operation Blue Roof should protect property for a minimum of 30 days and allow residents to remain in or return to their homes while recovering from the storms. The program is for primary residences, or occupied rental properties that can be repaired with plywood, plastic sheeting, and in some cases a minor amount of rafter replacement or repair. Not all roof types qualify for the program. If you know of a survivor who needs a temporary roof but is unable to visit a ROE Center, let center officials know the location so they can reach out.
Keep in touch with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for more timely assistance. Make sure you update any change in address, phone or banking information. Applicants may update their contact or banking information at a Disaster Recovery Center in their area, online at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ or via phone at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services can call 800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers are operating 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 multiple languages.
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.
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 www.DisasterAssistance.gov, in Spanish at www.DisasterAssistance.gov/es, 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
Sharon Coldren and the CBCC board.
Friday Sept 22nd
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,
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 https://voad.communityos.org/volunteer-registration-usvi-irma . 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 – http://thestjohnfoundation.org/donate – 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 http://thestjohnfoundation.org/donate
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