Home News Local news GOVERNOR WANTS FEDS TO COVER ALL REPAIR COSTS FOR ST. CROIX PUBLIC FACILITIES

GOVERNOR WANTS FEDS TO COVER ALL REPAIR COSTS FOR ST. CROIX PUBLIC FACILITIES

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Gov. Charles Turnbull said he would ask the federal government to pay 100 percent of the cost of repairing damage caused by Hurricane Lenny to public facilities on St. Croix.
He made the statement after a brief tour of the island Friday afternoon, his first visit since 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 in 1995, because of extreme circumstances the Federal Emergency Management Agency upped the federal portion to 90 percent.
Some observers believe Washington might be reluctant to do so this time, 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 Cyril E. King 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 generated by the hurricane.
Work is expected to begin Sunday to construct a bridge at the pier to close a gap between the bulkhead and the ocean columns where a portion of the facility was damaged. Port Authority executive director Gordon Finch said it was a top priority "to get this pier ready for cruise ships."
The overall structure and integrity of the pier are sound, Finch said, and 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 from Lenny — 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 resume calling 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 assessments in the territory since arriving Wednesday after President Clinton declared a federal state of emergency in the territory. The federal government will also 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, from 4 p.m. Friday 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 Saturday whether to extend the St. Croix curfew to that night.

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