Despite Hurricane Lenny's Category 4 punch on Wednesday, St. Croix stood bruised but mostly unbloodied Thursday.
Hardest hit was the island's West End, where storm surge and waves pulverized homes, docks and restaurants in Frederiksted.
All in all, however, most of the island fared relatively well in the storm. While many residents were dealing with flooding inside their homes, they were not finding signs of widespread structural damage.
The most crippling blow to St. Croix's already fragile economy was severe damage to the Ann E. Abramson Marine Facility in Frederiksted.
An approximately 20-foot section of the dock that abuts the bulkhead was knocked out completely by storm surge and waves. The dock is used by cruise ships, many of which had just started calling on the island for the new cruise season.
Completely knocked out by the storm was the fishermen's pier at the south end of Frederiksted.
The Changes In Latitude bar sustained major damage when waves buckled the building's foundation.
West End resident Kim Holdridge experienced first hand Lenny's fury. Early Wednesday morning Holdridge's small house, directly on the shore, began filling with water from pounding waves. He shoved as many documents and keepsakes as possible into a bag and made his escape in his car.
Thursday morning, Holdridge's house sat crumpled 20 feet away from its foundation. "To me this is worse than Hurricane Hugo," he said. "I thought I might die out here."
The Divi Carina Bay Resort, which reopened two weeks ago after sitting dormant for 10 years due to damage sustained in Hurricane Hugo, received moderate damage, according to general manager Allen Mallory. The beachfront rooms sustained damage and a section of roof was blown off.
The resort's casino, which is still under construction, was severely damaged.
"We lost almost the entire second floor," Mallory said of the casino. "There is extensive damage throughout. The casino's opening date was set for Dec. 15, but the storm has pushed that back 60 to 90 days."
Despite the setback, Mallory said, the resort staff is extremely optimistic about getting back to normal.
"We are in business tonight," he said Thursday afternoon. "We are renting rooms."
Kevin Ryan, owner of The Waves, a family-operated hotel at Cane Bay on St. Croix's North Shore, said his hotel came through the storm unscathed. He said island residents have learned to prepare and build so that storms like Lenny do not wreak havoc, as Hurricane Hugo did.
"We know what we're doing now," Ryan said. "We'll be open in a couple of days."
There was a late afternoon report that the Water And Power Authority was re-energizing some areas of St. Croix. Feeders 1 and 4 were being powered up at publication time. Feeder 9 was expected to be back on Friday morning.


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