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GOVERNOR WANTS FEDS TO COVER ALL REPAIR COSTS

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Gov. Charles Turnbull will ask the federal government to fund 100 percent of the cost of repairing hurricane-related infrastructural damage to public facilities on St. Croix.
He made the statement after a brief tour of the island Friday afternoon, his first visit since Hurricane Lenny spread torrential rains and hurricane-force winds across the territory, doing by far the greatest damage to St. Croix.
When federal disasters are declared, it is standard procedure for the federal government to fund 75 percent of infrastructure repair costs, with the state or territory covering the other 25 percent. In the case of Hurricane Marilyn, because of extreme circumstances, the Federal Emergency Management Agency upped the federal portion to 90 percent.
Some observers believe it may be reluctant to do so in this case, in part because the V.I. government has yet to repay hundreds of millions of dollars in federal loans from previous hurricane disasters.
The governor arrived on St. Croix from St. Thomas aboard a USAir flight, the first large aircraft to fly into Henry Rohlson Airport since Tuesday. He first visited the damaged Ann Abramson Marine Terminal, the cruise ship pier in Frederiksted. The pier's foundation was eroded and a portion of the dock was broken by the heavy seas and storm surge.
Work is expected to begin Sunday to construct a bridge at the pier to close a gap between the bulkhead and the ocean columns. Port Authority executive director Gordon Finch said it is a top priority "to get this pier ready for cruise ships."
The overall structure and integrity of the pier are sound. Cruise lines have already inquired as to when repairs will be completed and port calls can resume.
Along with the Virgin Islands, several other popular cruise ship destinations in the region, including St. Martin, suffered damage in the hurricane — which remains in the Eastern Caribbean, but greatly diminished in strength. Cruise lines are expected to seek alternate ports of call if they are unable or unwilling to call at the affected ports.
After viewing the pier area, Turnbull proceeded to the government's emergency operations center at the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Hermon Hill for a late-afternoon briefing.
The governor said he expects to receive completed damage assessment reports from his emergency management team officials this weekend and will then submit the request for federal assistance to Washington through FEMA.
FEMA officials have been conducting their own on-site assessments since arriving Wednesday after President Clinton declared a federal state of emergency in the territory.
The federal government will fund 75 percent of the costs of this initial response. Long-term assistance is contingent on the President declaring a federal disaster.
St. Croix was again under night-time curfew Friday, from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. Saturday. The Water And Power Authority reported that 25 percent of power had been returned to the island by Friday evening.
On St. Thomas and St. John, where power restoration has gone much more quickly, the curfew was lifted at noon Thursday. Turnbull said he would decide today whether to extend the St. Croix curfew tonight.

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