October 1st Update from FEMA

We received the following update today from FEMA. They asked that we share it with all of you.

The top priority of the federal government is pushing forward to provide life safety and life sustaining resources to the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. FEMA and its federal partners continue 24-hour operations to conduct life-saving rescue and medical missions, clear routes of debris, restore emergency communications and power generation, and maintain a heavy flow of meals, water and other commodities for communities. We were here when the storm hit, and we will be here throughout the response and recovery.

We remain committed to put forth the full effort of the federal government to overcome the complex challenges requiring a phased approach to the delivery of personnel, resources, and equipment to move the resources, and provide lodging for responders.

There are more than 12,600 federal staff representing 36 departments and agencies, including more than 800 FEMA personnel, on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands engaged in response and recovery operations from Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Hundreds of additional federal personnel are supporting response and recovery operations through mainland coordination centers and logistics facilities.

Teams are on the ground meeting with survivors, providing meals and water, conducting wellness checks, and connecting families. All municipalities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have been reached. FEMA and its federal partners have cleared debris to gain access to ports, airports and roadways; and at the same conducted search and rescue operations, assessed hospitals, and moved meals and water onto and around the island.

It will take time to get power restored to many areas, but work is underway between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Energy, local power authorities, and the private sector to get power restored in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The outpouring of support that is being offered from across the nation, combined with the selfless dedication of volunteers shows the compassion and unity of Americans helping Americans. To donate or volunteer for the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico, contact the voluntary or charitable organization of your choice through the National Voluntary Agencies Active in Disasters (NVOAD) at www.nvoad.org.

Hospitals: Assessment of the Myra Keating Medical Facility on St. John is complete and repairs to this facility are a top priority.

Medical evacuations continue from the U.S. Virgin Islands for critical need dialysis patients.

Delivery of Commodities: Officials in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico opened points of distribution (POD) in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for survivors to get meals, water, and other commodities.

FEMA, working in coordination with federal partners, provided millions of meals and millions of liters of water to Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Additional meals and water continue to arrive to the islands daily via air and sea.

Communications: Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) communications assets and personnel continue to support the FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT), Urban Search and Rescue (US&R), National Disaster Medical System (NDMS), and other federal teams in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are more than 30 MERS personnel in Puerto Rico and more than 20 MERS personnel in the USVI.

A U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) mobile communications team is in Puerto Rico to help improve communications across the storm-impacted area.

Life Safety and Life Sustaining: The U.S. Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority drinking water system is back online, and other drinking water systems on the islands are top priority for receiving generators.

(This does not pertain to those who rely on cisterns for water.)

The U.S. Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority Waste Management, and USACE are addressing potential public health risks of garbage build up; coordinating route clearance of wires and poles to enable garbage haulers to access the St. Thomas landfill.

The National Guard Bureau (NGB) has thousands of Guard members on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands taking part in security and support operations. The Air National Guard is focused on transporting food, water, and communications capabilities as well as rapidly increasing airlift into affected areas.

Fuel, Transportation, and Debris: St. Croix and St. Thomas report adequate fuel supply on the islands for power generation and response efforts, including gasoline, diesel, and propane.

USACE temporary power response teams are on the ground in Puerto Rico and USVI, assessing power needs and installing generators at critical facilities. Teams have completed more than 170 inspections, and more than 200 assessments have been requested for facilities. Generator installations are underway in both Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, with 20 installations completed.

The federal government is working with its interagency and private sector partners to support availability, transportation and delivery of fuel, based on priorities identified by Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The USACE Blue Roof program is active in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 43 Blue Roofs are installed in the U.S. Virgin Islands to date.

Declarations: President Trump issued major disaster declarations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Additional information for the U.S. Virgin Islands is available at the following locations:

Additional questions can be directed to FEMA Intergovernmental Affairs at 202-285-7835.

Sunday Tidbits – October 1st

Hello everyone and happy Sunday. Here is your daily St. John update… A big thanks to Celia of the St. John Community Foundation for compiling all of this information.

Great news from Coral Bay!! The Fire Station now has an upgraded generator from Army Corp of engineers. Fuel and maintenance will be taken care of by FEMA. WAPA and the Army will sit down early this week to discuss installing a mini grid on Coral Bay side of island. Also, a line of sight for a hotspot has been established.

To help with transportation, the Bloomberg team will be running an 18 passenger shuttle at noon and 2 p.m. from the Cruz Bay ferry dock to the Coral Bay Fire Station, making stops along the way as needed. This schedule will be increased/decreased as needed.

Food needs: The Red Cross has agreed to extend meal support through October 11th at The Longboard and Cruz Bay Landing with meals delivered to Coral Bay. Indigo Grill and 420 continue to serve self supported and with donations and selfless volunteers. Again, a HUGE thanks to all involved on this!

In other food news, our friends on island are reporting that several markets have stocked shelves including fresh produce!

News on our furry friends: Animal rescue teams with supplies and carriers for the ACC and K9CCC was slated to fly to St. John yesterday. The bulk of sheltered and surrendered animals will get off island either today or early this week.

Boat Removal – This from VINP’s Jayne Schaeffer: “I am trying to get the NPS to take responsibility for removing vessels from HH and other areas of the park in a careful manner. Nothing has been decided yet. … All I know is when hurricane Marilyn hit, others took the lead on removing vessels, …and damage was incurred to park resources then. We are methodical. Our goal is intact boats, no fuel or waste leakage, no more damage to our beautiful park. I know folks want their vessels now. Please help me get this done correctly. Thanks, Jayne Jayne Schaeffer- Deputy Superintendent Virgin Islands National Park, VI Coral Reef National Monument”

What’s open? The St. John Business Alliance facilitation is gearing back up and is uniting with https://www.facebook.com/groups/USVIbusinesscommunitystjohn. Business owners are urged to check in as “Open for Business” and customers can see where they can go for food and services on St. John and in St. Thomas!

If you are a business owner, and have particular issues that you need help addressing,please  email celia@sjcf.org.

Volunteer efforts: Interested in volunteering? Please register with VOAD here: https://usvivoad.communityos.org/cms/irma

Donations: Looking to support the rebuilding efforts? You can donate to the St. John Community Foundation at http://thestjohnfoundation.org/donate or Kenny Chesney’s Love for Love City Foundation at www.kennychesney.com. We will have more on that this week.

And lastly, we want to extend a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Michelle Fage and Jason Cawthron. The couple, both residents of St. John who were evacuated following Hurricane Irma, are getting married today in Massachusetts. Congrats!! xoxo

A Message from Hannah

Hannah (left) and her mother

Hannah (left) and her mother

Today we’d like to share a message with you from Hannah Jones. Hannah lives on St. John and is currently on island. I taught her son Jack at Gifft Hill in 2015-2016. He’s a great kid and a talented musician. That’s a testament to Hannah. Hannah posted the following note on her Facebook page yesterday. It gives a good glimpse of what’s currently happening on St. John. She gave us permission to share it with all of you.

Making progress on my moms place but it’s slow going. It’s a long day for many reasons. We dropped jack off at school today, he goes from 10-2. Then we went to both hardware stores to secure a generator for my mom. No luck. Then we drive to coral bay past all the destruction. We see it every day and it is still jarring and I fight tears back each time. The devastation is indescribable and unfathomable. It looks like a bomb exploded here leaving trees bare and snapped like toothpicks. Telephone poles, matchsticks.

We go by the fire station to get our free sandwich and refugee supplies, yesterday was a small box of water, 3 small boxed milks, and 2 MREs (meals ready to eat). One was ravioli. Then we wind the way to EdeN, avoiding downed phone poles and hanging wires. They have made a lot of progress clearing the roads but not our driveway. Then I mopped up water with old towels in my moms lower level, and threw out every bookcase, everything is ruined down there. She works in the upstairs or the yard. We work hard but visually don’t see very much progress. Today we brought a cooler with us so had a cold beer in the shade surveying our work. Then we drove back to pick up jack at 2. There are 78 kids at the school, it is the only school open so public and private are all together now.

Then we went to cruz bay to register for a tarp from the army corps of engineers. Then we had our free lunch provided by Longboard – THANK YOU!!! We found bob and said hi to folks, some I haven’t seen since Irma. Eliza Magro wanted me to pass along the word that she is taking professional photos of destroyed homes and properties for insurance for $150. PM me if you need her #. Also love city strong is hiring for $10.00 / hour people to canvass neighborhoods door to door to find out what each family needs whether it be a tarp roof or whatever and make a list so assistance can get what they need. They are having a meeting from 11-2 at mongoose Saturday for more information.

Now we are “home” staying with a friend. No power so no shower but a gallon jug of water does the trick. At sundown we will have a generator to cook with, drink some wine with a little light, read GOT (ok only I do that) and go to bed and start all over tomorrow. For me it’s day 3 of doing this, since I was stranded in PR, but for everyone else it’s day 22. No one is starving. But life is not easy. Being with my family makes it easier and it hurts to know I have to leave and cannot stay to do more. I’ll do this every day with my mom until I go in a week. Anyway, just a little update. St John people can’t really get on Facebook but I thought my friends/ family stateside might like to know what we are up to. There a lot of people who may forget when the news stops or moved on to other bullshit petty things, that this reality will be going on for a LONG time. And that is just here, don’t get me started in Puerto Rico, compared to there, were looking good. Anyway, love to all and it will only get better ❤️💛💚 #lovecitystrong

Fundraiser Events to Support St. John

aerial shot of St. John in US Virgin Islands

There are lots of great fundraisers being planned to benefit St. John and its recovery efforts. The largest one we have hear of thus far is being held by Questlove, a member of The Roots and Jimmy Fallon’s house band. How amazing is that??!! It’s happening tomorrow, September 30th in Brooklyn. More details below.

Here is a list of the events we currently know about. If you are planning a fundraising event and it is not on this list, please contact me at jenn@newsofstjohn.com and I will add it.

  • September 29th – Black Mountain, North Carolina – Pisgah Brewing Company – 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. – $10 donation at the door; $1 from every beer sold will be donated as well – Proceeds to benefit St. John Rescue
  • September 29th – Annapolis, Maryland – Annapolis Smokehouse & Tavern – Silent auction and 20% of the restaurant’s revenue to be donated to St. John Rescue
  • September 30th – Brooklyn, New York – Brooklyn Bowl – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Questlove returns to Brooklyn Bowl for a 4 hour family dance party! Presented by The Rock and Roll Playhouse this event is family friendly and free! This show has been moved to Brooklyn Bowl from Industry City. – $10 suggested donation – Proceeds to benefit St. John Rescue – Click here for more information
  • September 30th – The Acoaxet Club – Westport, Massachusetts – 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. – $40 – Proceeds to benefit St. John Community Foundation
  • September 30 – Stuart, Florida – North River Shores Tennis Club member /guest tournament. $30 per player. Supply items being collected too! All proceeds to benefit Gifft Hill School, St. John
  • September 30th – Gloucester, Massachusetts – The Rhumblines – 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. – $20 suggestion donation at the door – Proceeds to benefit St. John Island and the victims of Irma & Maria
  • October 1st – Kennebunk, Maine – Allison’s Restaurant – All day; Band starts at 4 p.m. – Proceeds to benefit Kenny Chesney’s Love for Love City Foundation
  • October 1st – Boston, Massachusetts – Prezza – Hosted by Sean Costanzo – 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. – $125 – Preorder tickets here – Proceeds to directly benefit people living on St. John – Sean’s brother Ryan Constanza is a partner of Extra Virgin Bistro
  • October 7th – Gloucester, Massachusetts – Norton Farm – 6:30 p.m. – $50 donation
  • October 15th – Charlotte, NC – 6 p.m. – Lauren Jones Magnie will perform a benefit concert hosted by Imagine Church, on the campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary – Admission is free; donations appreciated – Proceeds to benefit St. John Relief
  • October 15th – Hyannis, Massachusetts – Naked Oyster – 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. – $125 – Click here for tickets – Proceeds to benefit St. John Rescue
  • October 21st – Mystic, Connecticut – Silver Oak – 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. – $10 – Proceeds to benefit Love for Love City Foundation and St. John Rescue

NOSJ_BANNER_STJ_STRONG_BANNER_ADAnd for the of you who would like to purchase a t-shirt to support rebuilding efforts, Jolly Dog has created one. Jolly Dog has been a staple on St. John for more than 20 years. Here is what owner Jeff Donnelly had to say:

We want to give proceeds from the sale of the shirt to three of our favorite charities: Coral Bay Community Council, St. John Animal Care Center, and St. John Rescue.

Sale of the shirt will also benefit Jolly Dog as we took a massive hit at the stores and suffered damage and looting…and will need to rebuild.

The shirts are available for purchase via our website www.thejollydog.com and a shop now button on our Facebook page.

The shirts are priced at $25.00 plus $5.95 shipping. We priced the shirt to allow our margins and raise money for charity at the same time. We will be shipping from the States as soon as possible, as no realistic shipping option exists here on St. John as you well know!

Sept. 28 Update from Celia

Island Days – Island Ways.  There is some stop and go, intermittent service at the bank, with potable water at Cinnamon and in other areas of daily life…but as they say in the islands…soon come. There were some wide eyes from stateside responders as it was announced that the x-ray machine was down at DeCastro, so people needing x-rays were being sent to the vet –  but we get it. Internet, postal service, phone service gas, school, business opening, car barge, people ferry schedules and more are covered in previous posts.

Mercy Ship will be taking 200 St. Johnians on Saturday – still time to sign up Friday from 12:30-3:30 at the Tourism Office in the park by the Post Office.

Up on the roof: Army Corps of Engineers will be set up one more day in Cruz Bay at Connections and then will move out to Coral Bay to get the ROE (Right of Entry) to install the sheathing/tarps mentioned in previous posts. Check at Fire Station for exact location. IMPORTANT to note that even if you have signed up at VITEMA you will have to  register with the Army Corps of Engineers. Again, ask for credentials if contactors come to your house.

One man’s trash: A dedicated barge for trash is removing approximately 22 bins a day from STJ to STT and will be adding extra bins at trouble spots. Please household waste only – do not bring construction, galvanized roofing or green waste to the bins.  Wastewater challenges have also been successfully addressed and continue to be monitored. Please do not burn trash – fires can get out of control and fire department is already busy enough! Debris removal costs are being covered by the Federal Gov’t and there was a call for RFP’s to contract the work locally!

Let there be power:  A larger generator is on the way to Coral Bay to replace the smaller one at the Fire Station, which will go to the Bethany Moravian Shelter – thanks FEMA – they are also making sure that the schools have the generators they need to enable public schools to start on Oct 9th. St John Hardware will have more generators on Monday.  ATT barge of equipment has left the mainland and service restoration is around the corner.

Red Cross in Action:  ARC is working with DIRT Team to distribute more cleaning kits on Monday. They estimate that 85% of people in Coral Bay have received Clean Up Kits. Volunteers are needed to help distribute these – if you can, email celia@sjcf.org or leave your name at the Fire Station in Coral Bay or with the Red Cross Shelter Managers at JESS/Bethany. They are still supporting the service of 2000 meals a day between Longboard and Cruz Bay Landing (at least through Tuesday), with meals delivered to Coral Bay (let us know that you receive these!)

Hungry as a horse: Starfish got a delivery today! Water was also distributed to people today and VITEMA will continue MRE/Water/Misc distribution tomorrow (Fri) from 12-3 in Cruz Bay on the ball field and from 9-2p in Coral Bay. Anticipate reduction in VITEMA distribution as stores start doing business – local businesses need your support! Dr Heidi organized feed to come in from STT and horses now have water. The Animal evacuation team is stuck in Atlanta at the moment, as people take priority, but they will be underway ASAP!

Medical news: If you have insulin that needs to be kept cold, according to the Com of Health, contact the Dept of Health or through the EOC/VITEMA to request a small generator (it will not be bigger than one to run the fridge). The Johns Hopkins Psychological Counselors will be in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay, and a DMAT team is coming to relieve them next week

On the road again: National Park continues to clear roads. The main road to Coral Bay is still precarious – discussion about having a shuttle as a consideration since people have been encouraged not to traverse that road. The NY Troopers are on the road and will focus on Coral Bay. Sharon has requested that with increased traffic and car barges running that some sort of security check takes place.

All work no play? Then don’t miss  The Tap Room – St John Brewers happy hour tomorrow (Friday) until curfew kicks in!

Other Weekend Fun: ST. JOHN JOB FAIR! Employment Opportunity for St. John Residents: Love City Strong is  coordinating with FEMA, the Bloomberg Response Team and the Kenny Chesney Love For Love City Foundation and the DIRT Team to hire temporary full-time employment to help with the recovery of St. John.  There will be a Job Fair at Mongoose Junction THIS SATURDAY 9/30 from 11a-2p. Residents who are interested in applying must attend. More information on the details of hirable positions will be disbursed at the Job Fair. All ages 18+, multilingual persons, and persons from all backgrounds are welcome and necessary to complete this project! Applicant Requirements: {prospective employees must be able-bodied, capable of working outside for extended periods of time, and ready to make a 90-day commitment to their positions. TOGETHER, we can help in the recovery of the island. TOGETHER, we are Love City Strong

The American Bar Association and local lawyers will be meeting to see how to best serve the needs of residents. IN our meeting today, they said even those who do not officially qualify will be able to seek legal assistance. The business community is meeting with the Governor and IRB, licensing, etc. THey will discuss how they can help local businesses….with IRB and licensing et al. They will be talking to cruise lines to schedule trips back to the VI. The St John Community Foundation is working on the STJ Business Alliance that was formulated prior to Irma and will be setting up a similar meeting in the very near future to establish a support network. If you are a business owner, and have particular issues that you need help addressing, email celia@sjcf.org.

Thursday, Sept. 28th Update

Cruz Bay - Sept. 28, 2017 - Image courtesy of Clint Gaskins

Cruz Bay – Sept. 28, 2017 – Image courtesy of Clint Gaskins

Hello everyone and happy Thursday! Here are the latest updates we are receiving from St. John:

  • The Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas reopened to commercial flights today!! American Airlines and Delta have one flight each to and from St. Thomas. Cape Air is also expected to resume flights between St. Thomas and St. Croix on Saturday. Travelers should contact the airlines directly for flight schedules.
  • According to Matt Gyuraki, internet is getting better everyday. He posted the following on his Facebook page: Out with the old… in with the new! Thanks to Bret Jefferson Christmas came early! St John getting state of the art internet backhaul! Speeds should increase and be a bit more stable. Now we just need solve this generator hick up! Off grid power soon come!
  • And here is the official word on communications from the St. John Community Foundation: Although not evident (tomorrow) due to a damaged main cable, people in both Coral Bay and Cruz Bay will be getting improved communications, as they repair the damaged cable and work on setting up new IT equipment that came in today; they will focus on south side of island next week. Matt Gyuraki, Will Culver, Pono, VINGN, VIYA and others are helping make this happen.
  • NY Troopers were on the ground in Coral Bay and Cruz Bay; there have been incidents that make both increased need for security and communication vital. … They received a permanent donation of 12 ham radios from C-core and are looking for help connecting the radios across island.
  • Christian Day School got a new roof today and they plan to start school Monday – once again volunteers and Love4Love City supported teams in action all around town.

Again many thanks to Celia and the St. John Community Foundation for working tirelessly for the benefit of our community.