Thursday, Sept. 21 Update from Celia

“Paradise is not lost!” Communications are limited, as expected, and teams are in the process of making an assessment of damage to the island’s infrastructure. Intermittent calls and internet exchanges are coming through with reports of wind and continuous rain, but no reports of serious injuries. Word this morning was an island wide full day curfew while military and first responders clear the roads and ensure the security of residents, power lines, structures and allow teams that had been deployed to return and set up for ongoing recovery efforts and supply distribution. Residents were told to get several days of provisions prior to Maria in anticipation of this; water and MRE’s were handed out in quantities that would enable residents to stay put for several days.
When curfews are lifted, people will be able to find cell reception (which is now spotty due to rains) and various Wi-Fi hotspots, including one at the Port Authority parking lot (thanks to Viya) and one at Ronnie’s, DMV and others coming up thanks to the work of VINGN, Jason and Matt. Coral Bay was connected with help from the Navy in between Irma and Maria; and Sharon is still getting messages out with requests that include the need for plastic bins for residents to protect what they were able to salvage from the continuing rains.
The Department of Tourism continues to encourage travelers to postpone trips to the islands at this time as it further evaluates the damage caused by the hurricanes and coordinates ongoing evacuation efforts. Last report we could find from the VI Port Authority was on the 17th; we will stay connected to the Government House, Dept of Tourism stay and other information sources and share updates: For flight information in and out of the territory here are the contact numbers for airports and airlines serving USVI http://www.usviupdate.com/airportairline-phone-numbers
“We continue to work with our federal partners and our friends across the mainland and around the world, to clean up and reconstruct the beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands. Always remember, we are strong and we are resilient. We will provide further updates as communications are fully restored.” said Gov. Mapp in last night’s update, which also directed us to the President’s official Disaster Declaration and an announcement that said he will continue to direct all necessary Federal resources to protect and support the people of the United States territories affected by these storms. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repair, low cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of this disaster.
DISASTER ASSISTANCE: Residents are encouraged to apply for Individual Assistance (IA) using website www.DisasterAssistance.gov. The process has been tested and is efficient. The telephone number to apply for IA is 1-800-621-3362. The Disaster Assistance Improvement Program’s (DAIP) mission is to provide disaster survivors with information, support, services, and a means to access, apply for and track the status of disaster assistance through joint data-sharing efforts between federal, tribal, state, local, and private sector partners. They also provide information about transitional sheltering assistance program and direct volunteers to the NVOAD site to affiliate with an organization planning a mission to the VI. Disaster Assistance Fact Sheet (PDF, 2 MB) offers help finding other disaster news, resources, and federal assistance. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest disaster loans to help small businesses and homeowners recover from declared disasters.
NOTICE TO VOLUNTEERS: 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-ir… 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.
The true spirit of St. John continues to emerge from the wreckage, and the St. John Community Foundation and others are taking specific action now to put into place the resources to allow effective short and long term recovery efforts. Thank you for helping us make that happen…our community is strong! We did survive and WILL rebuild! 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
Sincerely yours in service – Celia

24 thoughts on “Thursday, Sept. 21 Update from Celia”

  1. AT&T is not working a all!
    I have not heard from my husband since before Irma hit the island!
    There are no hotspots for AT&T service.

    • Please have everyone call in and complain, the more calls they get the more priority, and we need that since there are so many fires at once all over.

    • Hi Sherrie. Not true. 3rd floor of Ronnies Pizza worked up until Maria hit. So far curfews have been put in place and no one can get over there to Ronnies to try it out. We were there during Irma and the week after. Trying to get back but the airport is in worse shape after Maria

    • I’m sorry, but you are incorrect. I have AT&T and was able to make calls since the day after Irma. My husband had service the day after Maria at the top of Contant and all today as well. I am not sure where your husband is trying to use his phone, but it WILL work at Ronnie’s and if he connects to the WIFI hotspot in the BMV lot, he will be able to FaceTime another iPhone, or just connect to the internet.

  2. Thank you so much for keeping us informed about what is happening in St. John, and how we can help. I have been very worried about the people on the island after Irma and during Maria.

  3. Just announced on The Weather Channel, interview with a Brigadier General Diana Holland of the Army Corps of Engineers, top priorities are electrical infrastructure, airports and ports to open to gain access to more resources. Army Corps of Engineers are the engineers for FEMA, per the Brigadier General. Plan is to help recover islands from major storms and will be in place for several months as of right now. They will work on electricity, even though it might be temporary, because with power, other things are accessible, per the General. All good news!

  4. Thank you so much for your current and past updates. I feel like I’m able to get the best news about the folks in Coral Bay from your blog.

  5. As Maho refugees we are concerned for all the people we have met there and for the loss of property. I knew we should have bought Woody’s

  6. Our hearts are with you all. Thank you for the updates.
    HOW are they planning to get people off the Island and when? We are trying to get one of our best friends off to join his family in the States. They left after Irma but before Maria, thankfully.
    Also, are you getting resources? How can we send donations?
    Thank you.

  7. Does anyone know of the actual wind speeds St John had to endure with Hurricane Maria? lv read from Tortola they had hurricane force winds documented. Also what more damage was sustained?

    • Same with me, I’m in Colo trying to get back to St Thomas. I’ve been rebooked several times too. Finally American said that I have till Dec 31st to rebook without being charged extra. They said I had to wait till Governor Mapp declared the airport officially open before I can come back . It’s very frustrating.

  8. Celia … Thanks for keeping us posted stateside. I have a home there and I am trying to come late October to assess damage and clean up. I can bring lots of bags, and planning to bring a couple of generators. Are there things you need that I can put on a plane?

  9. Celia, I used to be a physician on St John a while back. I originally came to the island for relief after Hugo and ended up staying four years. I’ve been trying to contact anyone at Myrah Keating to see if there is any need of immediate assistance there or in Coral Bay…Cruz Bay or inbetween. If anyone can provide information or transmit my willingness to help to the hospital I’d appreciate it. Thanks so much.

  10. The people of St John, St Thomas and St Croix are an extraordinary and exceptional lot. Your faith, sense of community and determination always prevail. Praying for you all! God’s blessings.

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