St. John CommUNITY Update – 11/5/17

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Residents of St. John have been working with Help.NGO's Global DIRT, Love City Strong, and St. John Rescue on an island-wide canvassing project making sure that various organizations have the data they need to consistently make progress as the island recovers from the hurricanes. St. John Rescue photo.

This update is brought to St. Johnians by Love City Strong (LCS), St. John Community Foundation, Coral Bay Community Council, St John Rescue, Virgin Islands Relief Fund,
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), Kenny Chesney’s Love for Love City, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Bloomberg USVI Recovery, and Help.NGO’s Global Disaster Immediate Response Team.

Curfew has been lifted territory-wide as of Oct. 30!

+ Town Hall meeting! A public forum on debris removal will be held at 2:30p tomorrow, Monday, Nov. 6 at the Legislature Annex building in Cruz Bay.

+ Food benefits are available! The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will provide 2 months of funds for disaster survivors. To apply, bring ID to the DHS office across from the Cruz Bay Fire Station 7a-6p Mon., 11/6 thru Wed., 11/15. (the office will be closed Nov. 10-12).

+ Meal @ midday! Freshwater Church is serving free lunch at The Fish Trap 12p-1p daily. All are welcome.

+ Disaster Recovery Centers are FEMA assistance centers for renters, homeowners, and small business owners. The DRCs are also where to sign up for Operation Blue Roof. The DRC in Cruz Bay is at the Legislative Annex building and the Coral Bay DRC is in the Community Council building, both are open 8a-5p Mon.-Fri.

+ Cruise ships arrive! According to the Department of Tourism (DOT), more than 25 cruise ship calls are scheduled for St. Thomas in November to boost economic activity, generate employment and stimulate recovery efforts.

+ Mail service expands! Officials indicated that Sunday operations in post offices throughout the Caribbean will continue for the foreseeable future. Ramped up delivery activities are supported by additional gains made in postal operations this week, including expedited hiring, training, and orientation of more than 400 temporary employees to support mail processing and delivery.

+ The LCS Donation Station is open! Stop by the shop next to Dog House Pub in Cruz Bay 9a-12p Mon.-Fri. for retail therapy! Free clothing and shoes are available to all. Donations may be dropped off 12p-2p.

+ Power returns! For the safety of restoration crews, WAPA advises residents to shut off standby generators when line crews are restoring electricity nearby. Report all electricity issues such as service interruptions and damaged or down equipment, poles or wires to the Emergency Call Center 9a-5p daily at (340) 774-1424.

WAPA crews removed electrical meters at locations where damage was apparent to either an electrical meter base and/or weather head. Home and business owners are advised to make repairs to their damaged weather heads and/or meter bases as soon as possible. Once crews have reached your neighborhood, those customers who have not had their weather head or meter base repaired, will not have service immediately restored. Additionally, customers and electricians are reminded that it is against the law to remove or otherwise destroy meter seals. If work needs to be done to repair a damaged meter base and/or weather head, contact WAPA’s Emergency Call Center, which operates 7 days/week.

+ Prescription assistance is here! The Emergency Prescription Assistance Program pays for prescription medications for disaster survivors. For now, St. Johnians will go to St. Thomas to receive benefits. Uninsured residents can call Express Scripts at 855-793-7470 or visit http://www.phe.gov/Prepared…/planning/…/Pages/formulary.aspx to learn if their medication or specific durable medical equipment is covered. Visit https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/psa/index.html for post-storm health tips.

+ Car barge service runs daily, with a variable number of trips. Check in at the barge for the daily schedule. The passenger ferry service to Red Hook is leaving Cruz Bay every hour on the hour beginning 6a and ending 5p. The return ferry leaves Red Hook at 6:30a, 7:30a, 8a, and every hour on the hour thereafter with the last departure at 5:30p.

+ A FREE east-west shuttle is in service. Two safari taxis run concurrently from the Cruz Bay passenger ferry dock and the Coral Bay Fire Station. The shuttle schedule is: 7:30a, 8a, 9a, 10a, 3p, 4p, 5p, and 5:30p. The first and last shuttle trips will be traveling from/to Calabash Boom in Coral Bay.

+ Unemployment insurance is available! The USVI Department of Labor is open 9:30a-1:30p Mon/Wed/Fri at the Legislature Annex building. All unemployment questions should be directed to the Department of Labor. To receive service, bring your ID and Social Security Card. Check claim status by phone at (340) 713-3410.

+ Clinic service: MKS has moved to the DeCastro Building in Cruz Bay. Clinical services, support, and supplies are being offered from the DeCastro clinic (where you get your health card) and the Coral Bay Fire Station.

+ Help is a phone call away! The Disaster Distress Helpline is available at 1-800-985-5990 for immediate crisis counseling. Free disaster-related legal service is available! Call the US Virgin Islands Disaster Legal Hotline at 800-310-7029.

+ Businesses are open with more every day! Chelsea Drug, the health clinic at the Marketplace, St. John Physical Therapy, Canines Cats and Critters, The ACC, St. John Insurance, Tunick Insurance, St. John Properties, Connections, Cruz Bay Post Office, Postnet, Big Planet, St. John Hardware, Paradise Lumber, First Bank, Scotia Bank ATM in Cruz Bay, Merchant Bank, St. John Ice, Starfish Market, Dolphin Market, St. John Market, Pine Peace Market, E&C Service Station, Race Track Station, Caravan Auto, St. John Auto Repair, Moses Laundry, Steve Simonson Photo, Bamboula, Cruz Salon, Papaya Café, Sun Dog Cafe, Chester’s Getaway, Hercules, Sam and Jack’s Deli, the Lime Inn, Uncle Joe’s BBQ, Dog House Pub, Cruz Bay Landing, 420 to Center, Extra Virgin, Rhumb Lines, Banana Deck, Fish Trap, La Tapa, The Terrace, Island Cork, Wok on the Beach, Oasis, Calabash Market, Thirsty Donkey, and Love City Market in Coral Bay are operational.

Virgin Islands Relief Fund and supportive volunteers are making progress rebuilding Pickles and Indigo Grill in Coral Bay. Their mission includes focusing on building a sustainable infrastructure for the future. They are also playing a big role in supply distribution. Thanks, VI Relief!

+ Connections has started an in-office version of the St. John Revolving Fund, providing interest-free loans for St. Johnians. Donations are tax-deductible and donors may identify an individual or group they would like to help. Cash and personal checks are accepted.

+ WiFi hotspots in town are near Ronnie’s Pizza, Connections, between the BMV building and the tennis court, and on the 3rd floor of the Marketplace. To prevent slow WiFi speed, please disable automatic app updates.

Look for VINGN-FreePublic or DIRT-FreePublic. No passwords are needed.

+ The Sprauve school is open! Classes are in session for grades K-5 8a-11a, and 11:30a-4p for grades 6-8. A celebration for all students on island is planned for November 3 at the Sprauve ballfield.

Gifft Hill School is in session from 10a-2p Mon.-Fri. Registration for students is open to all! Anyone can come with their child to register for classes from 8:30a-9:30a. Fees are deferred until further notice. Volunteers are needed for student translators, carpooling, and cleaning.

St. John School of the Arts is open! They are offering free on-site and after-school programs. Contact Jenna Fox at info@stjohnschoolofthearts.org or 340-228-2511.

+ Love City Pan Dragons has free classes for all! Ages 8–Adult and all experience levels are welcome 2:45p-5p on Fridays and/or 12p-3p on Saturdays between Human Services and the Sports and Rec Building across from the Fire Station in Cruz Bay.

+ DPW is now removing storm debris from public roads. Move all storm-related debris within 10 feet of the roadside and sort by debris type. Appliances, electronics, vegetation, and roofing/construction materials must all be separated. Do not obstruct the roads with debris.

+ All Caribbean parks remain closed by the National Park Service (NPS) until further notice to ease the strain on beach, trail and road cleanup by minimizing foot traffic.
Swim at your own risk! The Surfrider Foundation and Love City Strong (LCS) independently tested beach water quality at 14 beaches and found unsafe levels of E. Coli at Maho Bay Beach (at the pavilion side), Cruz Bay and Great Cruz Bay. Jumbie Beach and Maho Bay Beach (at the parking lot side) also presented medium risk. Detailed results can be seen at https://goo.gl/SKK9ey. Other hazards at St. John beaches include debris from boats, buildings, and trees. LCS will continue water quality testing and NPS/DPNR will make official statements regarding water safety. NPS is enforcing beach rules; dogs must be leashed, and glass bottles are prohibited within National Park beaches.

+ Attention, property owners! If you own a multi-family dwelling that needs repairs and are willing to lease to eligible FEMA hurricane survivors, then you may be interested in the Multi-Family Lease and Repair Program (MLRP), which provides funds to make rental units habitable again and helps displaced residents at the same time. Contact FEMA-USVI-MLR@fema.dhs.gov.

+ Attention, boat owners! Dec. 1 is the deadline to notify the Coast Guard of vessel salvage/removal intentions. Call the Vessel Owner Notification Hotline at (340) 423-6353 or email caribbean_recovery@nps.gov. Provide registration, owner information, vessel location, date of removal, salvage contractor, & DPNR/Coast Guard decal target number (for marked vessels). DPNR is working with FEMA to provide assistance for those needing help with vessel removal.

+The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) continues sign-ups for FREE tarp/roofing installation until Fri., Nov. 23. Residents may sign up 8a-5p at the Legislative Annex building in Cruz Bay or the DRC at the Community Council in Coral Bay. Bring a photo ID, a property tax bill, and, if possible, a photo of the damaged roof. Visit www.sad.usace.army.mil/Blueroof or call 888-ROOF-BLU.

+ Apply for FEMA assistance by Dec. 18! Visit
www.disasterassistance.gov, call 800-621-FEMA or sign up 8a-5p at the DRC at the Legislative Annex building in Cruz Bay or the DRC at the Community Council in Coral Bay. Visit FEMA U.S. Virgin Islands, to learn about programs offered.
FEMA’s SBA program is also at the DRCs to help businesses impacted and offers low-interest, long-term disaster loans for physical damage and working capital. Information on the disaster loan program may be obtained by calling SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Loan applications can be downloaded fromwww.sba.gov/disaster. Completed applications should be returned to a recovery center or mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
The filing deadline to submit applications for physical property damage is Dec. 18, 2017 for Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The deadline for economic injury applications is June 7, 2018 for Hurricane Irma and June 20, 2018 for Hurricane Maria.

+ $41 million in Public Assistance grants reflect our commitment to the recovery effort across the Virgin Islands,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer William Vogel. “We strongly support the territorial government’s priorities of caring for survivors, getting lights turned on throughout the islands and clearing roadways of debris for everyone’s health and safety.” There are over 500 line workers in the territory; and a multitude of FEMA, emergency disaster workers and volunteers; military personnel and insurance adjusters now living with us in the community.

+ Senator Millin Young said it is time to start thinking about building a robust economy and called for the repeal of the sin tax bill. “I opposed this tax increase in the beginning, and today, I oppose them again for their negative impact on our economy. We will not recover with more taxes on our businesses. Our businesses need tax relief to jumpstart our economy,” she said. Additionally, the senator called for property tax Bill No. 32-0030, which seeks to provide relief to property owners who are assessed exorbitant taxes, to be forwarded to the full Senate. “This bill will be impactful for the territory’s residents, especially St. Johnians who pay the most property taxes and get the least government services,” Ms. Millin, who sponsored the legislation, said. “This inequity was shown to us all by the way the central government failed to serve St. Johnians after Hurricane Irma hit.”
On the infrastructure side, the senator has reached out to Tesla and its SolarCity subsidiary to come up with temporary and perhaps long-term solutions to provide energy services to the U.S. Virgin Islands. “As policymakers, we need to identify what is needed to attract such development to our shores,” Ms. Millin Young said.

+ For those abroad wanting to help, monetary donations are encouraged over other offers of assistance. Recommended charitable organizations are: The St. John Community Foundation, St. John Rescue, Love City Strong, Coral Bay Community Council, Animal Care Center of St. John, Virgin Islands Relief Fund, and Love for Love City. An online registry for future volunteer opportunities that will be available once needs are assessed and additional persons on island are sustainable is at https://voad.communityos.org/volunteer-registration-usvi-irma.