Government Agencies Meet To Develop Hazard Mitigation Plan

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Representatives of several government agencies convened on Tuesday, March 11, to discuss ways to reduce loss on St. John in the event of a natural disaster. The territory must update its hazard mitigation plan every three years in order to stay eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding in the event of a natural disaster.

 

FEMA, V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency and St. John Rescue representatives rated territory-wide actions and St. John-specific actions according to their potential for loss reduction at last week’s meeting. The plan will be submitted for FEMA’s approval.

“This is a public informational meeting to let people know we’re developing a hazardous mitigation plan,” said Jeffrey Euwema of St. Thomas-based Council for Information and Planning Alternatives, a planning and technology company contracted by the V.I. government to develop the hazardous mitigation plan. “This is a series of processes the territory must go through.”

Natural disasters were rated according to their potential for money loss on St. John, with hurricanes coming first, then coastal flooding, river flooding, earthquakes and tsunamis. When rated according to the time it would take St. John to recover, earthquakes came first, followed by hurricanes, coastal flooding, river flooding and tsunamis.

Several mitigation actions the group decided to implement last week call for different government agencies to step in, however it’s up to each agency to follow through and do their part, explained Euwema.

“It’s a strategic plan done to meet a federal requirement, so the government does the federal plan but it’s up to the implementing agencies to actually follow through with the actions,” he said. “It’s up to them to do the work.”

Below is the list of St. John-specific actions the group decided to implement at last week’s meeting:

– Pursue public/private sector initiative to resolve localized flooding problem on the Westin Resort property and adjacent public road. Several new, properly-sized culverts are required.

– Construct drainage improvements to eliminate localized flooding at the lower end of Carolina Gut at Little Plantation, across from the Domino Gas Station, where natural storm flows in the catchment area have been altered by construction and improper siting of structures.

– Construct drainage improvements to eliminate localized flooding at Pond Mouth at the intersection of Routes 102 and 105.

– Pursue the reconstruction of the Bordeaux Mountain Road to Coral Bay to ensure emergency access from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay during periodic road closures.

– Office of the governor/VITEMA/Department of Public Works/National Park Service perform assessment to explore the possibilities of developing an alternate south side route from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay to ensure emergency access to Coral Bay during periodic road closures.

– Improve drainage infrastructure (box culverts) at WAPA building and treatment plant, while addressing potential secondary impacts to wetlands.

– Perform an assessment to identify appropriate slope stabilization projects to eliminate slope failures along Centerline Road.

– Pursue a DPW mitigation project to eliminate slope failures along Centerline Road, between mile 6 and mile 7 and between Reef Bay and mile 5, which periodically close the road during major storm events.

– Conduct a hydrological study of the Coral Bay watershed or catchment area with particular attention given to the sub-watersheds of Johnny Horn Trail and Kingshill (Carolina Gut) to determine technically feasible and cost-effective structural solutions to the flooding problem in Coral Bay.

– Construct drainage improvements to eliminate localized flooding along Route 107 southbound in Coral Bay (Estate Carolina).

– Construct underground feeders from the St. John substation to various termination points within Cruz Bay to mitigate damages from hurricane winds and ensure rapid recovery and return to normal service.

– Coordinate with the NPS for the construction of appropriate drainage system improvements to eliminate localized flooding along Route 20 in Maho Bay.