ST. THOMAS — A second appearance before the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee fared better for Daryl Jaschen, whose nomination as director of the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency unanimously advanced Thursday to the full Senate body.
Jaschen, who was appointed in March, assured senators that preparations for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season have already placed the territory on better footing than previous years, citing improvements in stakeholder coordination, and the arrangement of distribution points, supply warehouses, evacuee tracking and inter-island communication.
Since his nomination was held in committee last month over questions about his management ability, Jaschen argued Thursday that his work to bring together local and federal stakeholders, both private and public sectors, and even nonprofits has helped shape a territory far more responsive to disasters.
“I see my role as the director nominee of VITEMA as the champion and coordinator of the planning process,” Jaschen said. “Through this testimony, [I hope] I have demonstrated that VITEMA, the Cabinet, local and federal stakeholders and community volunteers all are fully engaged in the planning process and for an emergency, and will adapt quickly to respond to the needs of the territory.”
Jaschen said federal and local decision-making will now begin 96 hours prior to a storm making landfall, and will enable resources to be put in place prior to a strike.
Three points of distribution will be activated on St. Croix and St. Thomas; two points on St. John; and one point on Water Island. The National Guard will operate all points of distribution.
Jaschen said distribution will likely begin four days after a strike on St. Thomas and St. Croix; and five days for St. John and Water Island.
He added that VITEMA has worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on a plan for stocking warehouses in the territory.
“The stock in these warehouses are for an immediate response until such time the ports are opened, and supplies can be delivered through the normal supply chain,” he said.
Currently, the FEMA warehouses have 54,000 liters of water, and 179,000 meals for St. Croix; 36,000 liters of water and 24,000 meals for St. Thomas; and 39,000 liters of water and 26,000 meals for St. John.
St. Croix also has 15 generators and St. Thomas has 26 generators.
Jaschen said he will try to get a generator for St. John.
He added that he will work to stock more tarps for the territory.
As for the 44 tsunami sirens that were destroyed in hurricanes Irma and Maria, Jaschen said he will use a $1.6 million grant to reestablish all 44 sirens on steel poles — instead of wood — and begin construction by January 2020.
Voting in favor of Jaschen’s nomination were Senators Janelle Sarauw, Alicia Barnes, Novelle Francis Jr., Kenneth Gittens, Myron Jackson, Javan James Sr. and Steven Payne Sr.