Home News Local news ST. CRIOX POST-LENNY PROGNOSIS IS OPTIMISTIC

ST. CRIOX POST-LENNY PROGNOSIS IS OPTIMISTIC

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Considering Hurricane Lenny’s 150-mph winds, St. Croix’s tourism industry is happy to be facing not much more than some hammering, mopping and intensive cleaning-up to get back on track for season.
And, after surviving their fourth major hurricane in 10 years, St. Croix residents are showing their resiliency, perhaps, as one veteran put it, because "they know what to do."
On Saturday, the first "typical" sunny Caribbean day with clear blue skies since Lenny struck on Wednesday, hotel industry spokesman Peter Ross was optimistic.
Most St. Croix resorts fared relatively well in the storm according to Ross, who is president of the St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association as well as owner of the King’s Alley Hotel.
"Everybody is pretty much up and running," he said. "What we got was just a real bad haircut."
Repairs to the damaged downtown Christiansted boardwalk were under way Saturday morning, as tourists who had ridden out the storm wandered in and out of nearby shops.
With power completely restored in the downtown area by Friday, most businesses opened as soon as clean-ups were completed and damage was repaired. Areas near the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport and Juan F. Luis Hospital also had electricity, but most of the island remained powerless.
All in all, the quick cleanup in Lenny’s wake had many longtime island residents praising the community’s resiliency and "change in attitude." Hurricane Hugo devastated St. Croix in 1989 and the recovery following Hurricane Marilyn in 1995 took several weeks.
A washed-out section of St. Croix’s vital cruise ship dock in Frederiksted is to get a temporary fix so that ships can tie up by Wednesday, Ross said. "I was really impressed with the Port Authority," he said. "They were right on it."
Don Siener, who owns businesses in both Frederiksted and Christiansted, said residents and the government weren’t waiting for outside help this time. He said there is a feeling that the community has "been there before and they know what to do."
He added, "After four major hurricanes in 10 years, I think God is telling us to do things for ourselves."
Joel Tutein, superintendent of the National Park Service’s Christiansted National Historic Site, said some park buildings sustained minor damage. Worst hit, he said, was the Steeple Building roof.
"It’s not an emergency at this point, and it’s not going to be a safety hazard," he said. "So we’ll open it. We don’t want to do anything that will impact visitors."
As for the reef at Buck Island National Monument, Tutein said the park would remain closed until an assessment is made. That's to happen on Sunday.
Tutein, who has been through every major hurricane that has struck St. Croix since the 1970s, said he feared there would be damage to the reef and beach area. But he said the park should reopen by early next week.
"The historic site and Buck Island will be ready to accept visitation," he said.
Ross and Siener were also optimistic about a quick islandwide recovery.
"Over the next week it will again be a nice island to visit, and the services will be there," Siener said.
As Ross put it, "Everybody is working like bees everywhere. We’ve become so resilient. There is no reason we can’t be back to normal by the end of next week."

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