ST. CROIX — Hurricane Maria disrupted recovery from Hurricane Irma, but some assistance is still on the way, Gov. Mapp said Thursday night from Government House in Christiansted, when he resumed his nightly briefings.
Several officials, including Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett, Mapp, and others, touted the possibility of Project Blue Roof recovery during the fledgling efforts to rebuild following Hurricane Irma.
That project still is planned, Mapp said Thursday.
The project would entail federal officials visiting local neighborhoods and constructing longer-term quarters for those suffering from roofs misplaced from the storms, Mapp said. Federal disaster survival assistance teams would be helping people transition from short-term survival to a more long-term outlook, he said.
“What that pretty much is, we’re going to send a team, and if you have parts of your roof still on, then there’s a special tarp that’s much heavier than the tarp that you’re receiving now,” he said. “They’re going to seal you back on so they can make your home liveable and dry.”
The service would be provided free, and it would be quick, Mapp said.
“Part of that contract that FEMA has on that project, is they’re required to do a minimum of 200 homes a day,” he said. “They believe from the assessment of the Army Corps of Engineers, they believe they’re going to be able to do an average of 300 homes a day. So this is not going to be a slow prod or a slow walk, with only 10 roofs. This is going to be a rapid process.”
The governor also addressed the distribution of federal disaster relief to the USVI and Puerto Rico.
Mapp said FEMA initially had those resources set to be distributed through one pipeline, but now the federal agency will distribute aid through separate channels.
Officials also plan to begin food, water, and tarp distribution on St. Croix in the aftermath of the storm at four locations:
• The Cotton Valley fire station.
• Juanita Gardine Elementary School.
• Alexander Henderson Junior High School.
• St. Croix Educational Complex High School.
Intitial distribution will begin today, in accordance with a curfew suspension between the hours of noon and 4 p.m., Mapp said.
Officials said Thursday that distribution will be limited to one case of MREs and three liters of water, but additional supplies could arrive before noon today, which would allow more supplies to be distributed, he said.
Distribution sites on St. Thomas also will resume giving out MREs. water and tarps today, according to Mapp.
At least two schools had sustained heavy damage from Maria, based on a helicopter flyover Mapp took on Thursday afternoon.
The Arthur Richards Junior High School and the Eulalie Rivera Elementary School had been destroyed, Mapp said.
Mapp also couched expectations about power restoration.
“It’s going to be a long road to recovery,” he said. “It’s going to be long. This is not a week, a month, six months. You’re gonna see power cropping up, but it ain’t going to get to every home.”
Officials have not changed the casualty count from Irma — officials had previously said four had died, and they expected it to rise — and did not yet have an update from St. Thomas or St. John from Hurricane Maria.
Mapp said he was not aware of any fatalities associated with Hurricane Maria apart from an incidental casualty in which one man appeared to have died of a heart attack during the storm.