ST. CROIX - The territory's response to Tropical Storm Erika may prove to be an expensive one.
In addition to activating the V.I. National Guard into Territorial Active Military Service, Gov. Kenneth Mapp declared a state of emergency, imposed a curfew across the territory, froze consumer prices and deputized all territorial peace officers and placed each of them under the direct supervision of the Police commissioner.
Once again, Mother Nature is teasing the territory with the possibility of rain to brng some relief to the drought-stricken islands.
However, less than 48 hours after Tropical Storm Erika threatened to drench the territory - and then did not - Virgin Islanders likely will first have to endure a hot and hazy day today before a tropical wave floats in on Monday.
That wave could bring some small relief, as the National Weather Service in San Juan said it expects a quarter- to a half-inch of rain.
Tropical Storm Erika's trek across the territory caused a number of closures and cancellations for various businesses and events.
Here is a list of changes, cancellations and reopenings available at press time this morning.
- Carnival Liberty is scheduled to arrive on St. Thomas at 7 a.m. today and depart at 5 p.m.
- Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas is scheduled to arrive on St. Thomas at 7:30 a.m. Sunday and depart at 5 p.m.
In the 50 years he has lived on St. Croix, Eric Schindler has seen his share of hurricanes - Hugo, Marilyn, Lenny - but as far as storms go, he said Erika was every bit a tropical storm as it howled across the island Thursday night.
"It was a little more than I was expecting, to be honest. We've had so many that never materialized, that were coming and became non-events," Schindler said Friday. "This one definitely lived up to my expectations. It was a real tropical storm."
Public Works crews and contractors stayed busy Friday morning clearing trees from numerous roads on St. Croix, but the island benefited from a steady rain brought on by Tropical Storm Erika.
"St. Croix fared very well in my opinion," Public Works Commissioner Gustav James told The Daily News on Friday afternoon. "We had a reasonable amount of rain and wind, but the rain came in such a manner that we did not result in any significant flooding."
ST. THOMAS - Several Dominica fundraiser efforts are under way to help those recovering from Tropical Storm Erika.
The Dominica Disaster Relief Committee was born Friday night, and it will begin taking donations starting today at 2:30 p.m. at Dominica Cargo, which is behind O'Henry Dry Cleaners in Tutu.
Every day for the next week donations are welcome at that location in the afternoons.
"We are looking for dry goods, baby supplies, medical supplies, building materials and tools," said Loreen Bannis Roberts, the committee's chairwoman. "We also would like hygiene products and even cash."
Wastewater facilities on St. Croix were running on generator power Friday in the wake of Tropical Storm Erika.
Stella Saunders, communications manager for the V.I. Waste Management Authority, said the William's Delight Pump Station was "offline due to a problem with the generator, but is being monitored by staff."
Solid waste disposal on St. Croix was hampered, but Saunders said transfer stations would be open today.
Two drive-by shootings transpired Thursday night on St. Croix in the midst of Tropical Storm Erika.
An off-duty officer employed at Luis Hospital reported shortly before 9 p.m. that a gunshot victim drove himself to the facility for treatment, according to the V.I. Police Department.
Officers responded to the call and met with a 53-year-old man, who said he was traveling east on Melvin Evans Highway when another vehicle approached from behind and passed him, according to the report.
Tropical Storm Erika almost washed a man out to sea early Friday morning at Cabrita Point on St. Thomas.
First responders rescued a man who found himself drifting away in a small boat after he thought he was securely tied to the dock, said St. Thomas Rescue spokesman Dalis Walwyn on Friday afternoon.
The man was spending the night in the vessel equipped with a cell phone, which he used to dial 911.
The British Virgin Islands was spared by Tropical Storm Erika, though residents reported trees down and debris on some roads.
"Once again, we have been spared significant impact from a tropical weather system," said acting Gov. Inez Archibald.
On Friday, Archibald said emergency teams were working to restore utilities and clear debris from the affected areas.
She said there had been some blockage of the road between Cox Heath and Towers, though that had been cleared and open for traffic on Friday. Rocks had blocked the Sir Francis Drake Highway in the proximity of The Bluff, on the western end of Tortola.
The Community And Police Association, in conjunction with the Bovoni Home Owners Association, will conduct a town hall meeting for residents and businesses in the communities of Bovoni, Nadir, Thomasville and Jeni's Hope at 6 p.m. Monday at the Bovoni Baptist Church.
The town hall meeting is a follow-up to last week's gathering and solutions from last week's meeting will be presented for discussion and follow through.
V.I. Water and Power crews started early Friday morning assessing and repairing damage from Tropical Storm Erika, and they will continue to do so on St. Croix throughout the weekend.
WAPA had feeders powering mid-island St. Croix - UVI, the Sunny Isle Shopping Center and Central High School - and parts of Christiansted at 100 percent on Friday night, said WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr.
Power restoration to the rest of the island still was in progress by press time this morning, with electricity partially restored to the remainder of Christiansted and the south shore, and to locations that included Clifton Hill, the Golden Rock Shopping Center and Orange Grove.
Tropical Storm Ana developed off South Carolina on May 9 and made landfall in the early morning May 10 just north of Myrtle Beach. Ana later was downgraded to a tropical depression.
Tropical Storm Bill formed in the northwest Gulf of Mexico on June 15 and made landfall the following day on Matagorda Island, Texas. Bill was downgraded to a tropical depression on June 17.
Tropical Storm Claudette formed in the Atlantic on July 13 and weakened to a post-tropical cyclone the following day.
Just after midnight Friday, Gov. Kenneth Mapp issued a statement declaring a state of emergency, instituting a territory-wide curfew until 5 p.m. today and ordering the V.I. National Guard into territorial active military service. He said he made his decision to take these actions after meeting at 10:30 p.m. with various members of his Cabinet.
The text of his statement is as follows:
"We have received numerous reports across the territory that trees are down, that WAPA poles are down in some areas, that WAPA lines are down in areas, that there is debris washing across the streets and thoroughfares of the territory. As a result of the conditions that are deteriorating in the Virgin Islands, and what appears to be the impossibility of the thoroughfares and roads of the territory, at 11 o'clock this evening, I as governor of the United States Virgin Islands pursuant to my powers in the revised organic act of 1954, is declaring a state of emergency in the Virgin Islands. This state of emergency will declare that a curfew be immediately imposed upon the territory between 11 o'clock this evening and at least until 5 p.m. Aug. 28. We will make an assessment during the day tomorrow to determine if this curfew should be sunsetted earlier or extended further.
ST. THOMAS - Gov. Kenneth Mapp made the decision to declare an emergency, institute a daytime curfew and establish catastrophe-level public safety measures by calling the V.I. National Guard into "territorial active military service" after meeting with members of his Cabinet.
According to Government House spokeswoman Kimberly Jones, the decision was made to include St. Thomas and St. John because of power outages and downed trees.
Tropical Storm Erika put down almost all of St. Croix's nine power feeders Thursday night, but she hardly touched the rest of the territory.
The only power feeder still functioning shortly before midnight was No. 5, which provides electricity to Luis Hospital.
VITEMA's Emergency Operations Center at 9 p.m. Thursday had the following power-related incidents on record for St. Croix:
- Feeder 9 - affecting Adventure, the racetrack, Central High-Clifton Hill area and Educational Complex.
Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas cancelled its rescheduled port call for today. The ship will make its regular port call on Sunday, arriving at 7:30 a.m. and departing at 5 p.m.
Carnival Liberty will arrive at 7 a.m. Saturday and depart at 5 p.m.
Tropical Storm Erika forced St. Croix's first responders Thursday night to deal with entrapment situations and critical emergency calls.
St. Croix First Responder Special Operations Commander Jason Henry said rescue teams saved a couple from a tree that fell on their porch, trapping them in their house, and a man from a lamppost that fell and blocked his car in a back street.
"He could not move," Henry said, "but we were able to get him back to his home."
Gov. Kenneth Mapp is planning to fly over the territory today to judge the damage from Tropical Storm Erika.
Mapp, speaking Thursday evening, said he will meet with Public Works Commissioner Gustav James, VITEMA Director Mona Barnes and National Guard Adjutant General Deborah Howell to get a birds-eye view of how the territory's infrastructure has been impacted by the storm.
Mapp also said he has called on Howell for the government to be able to use National Guard vehicles as it tries to assess the damage from the storm.
ST. THOMAS - Staff from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were present on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John on Thursday in preparation for Tropical Storm Erika.
"This is one of the first times I've seen FEMA staged on all islands," said FEMA External Affairs officer Lauren Lefebvre. "We're staged on St. Thomas and St. Croix, and we have someone on St. John," she said.
Lefebvre and other FEMA staff had been in the territory for Hurricane Danny, but immediately transitioned to address Tropical Storm Erika, she said. "This is one of the first times we've deployed before the storm. I think it's a wonderful move."
ST. THOMAS - V.I. Waste Management Authority Executive Director May Adams Cornwall said Thursday that her contractors can't get out and pick up trash until they get an all clear this morning that all the roads are passable.
"I will have folks out doing an assessment on our pump stations. We have treatment plants that will need to be assessed," she said. "The first thing we worry about is flooding. Our stations are built to operate under floodwaters; however, if they lose power, they have to go on generator."
All airports and seaports in the territory will remain closed until further notice, according to the V.I. Port Authority.
King Airport on St. Thomas and Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix were closed at 4:30 p.m. Thursday as the territory prepared for the arrival of Tropical Storm Erika.
Seaports had been closed since midnight Wednesday.
Executive Director Carlton Dowe said that Port Authority employees as well as federal agencies required to process flights and vessels should report to work as normal today.
ST. THOMAS - A crowd of 300 is expected at Emile Griffith Ballpark on Saturday as fathers are feted for being involved in the lives of their children.
The event, the V.I. Fathers March Rally barbecue, is being held in conjunction with the LADIES Back to School Family Fun Day. LADIES stands for Little Adults Developing Into Exceptional Scholars, and is designed to instill pride and scholarship in school-aged girls.
The Waste Management Authority is advising residents to dispose of all household waste by 7 a.m. today throughout the territory to allow for Waste Management contractors to empty the bins prior to the passage of Tropical Storm Erika.
The "Report A Problem" link on the website www.viwma.org also can be used.
Because of the expected rainfall from the storm, the territory's sewer collection system likely will have a large inflow of stormwater and debris, according to Waste Management.
Here she comes.
Erika is expected to arrive today as a tropical storm bearing sustained winds of up to 60 mph and heavy rain.
As of press time this morning, Erika was moving west at about 16 mph and was about 100 miles east of Antigua.
With Erika slowing slightly from Wednesday's forward movement of 17 mph, the time of the storm's peak impact on the territory remained uncertain.
According to the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, the center of Tropical Storm Erika was going to be closest to the territory - passing within 10 miles of St. Thomas and St. John - sometime between 5 and 6 p.m. today.
ST. CROIX - An AARP survey of caregivers in the Virgin Islands shows that 97 percent of residents ages 45 and older who provide care to seniors and sick or disabled loved ones or family members say training and instruction on medical tasks upon discharge from the hospital are the most dire need.
Denyce Singleton, state director of AARP Virgin Islands, announced the results of the AARP Telephone Care Giving Survey during a press conference Wednesday.
More than 400 American Red Cross of the V.I. volunteers are offering shelter from the storm.
"Everyone will be safe," said Robert Sofaly, the Disaster Program Specialist for St. Thomas and St. John told The Daily News on Wednesay evening. "We can guarantee that."
The reason Sofaly can make such a promise to the community is because the V.I. Red Cross volunteers work all year long to ensure they are prepared for events like Tropical Storm Erika.
More than 2 million pounds of Oscar Mayer Turkey Bacon has been recalled because of "spoilage-related consumer complaints."
The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs issued a statement Wednesday that Oscar Mayer turkey bacon produced between May 31 and Aug. 6 is being recalled because the turkey bacon may have spoiled before its "Best When Used By" date and may make consumers susceptible to foodborne illness.
Rainy days will continue after Tropical Storm Erika blows through the territory today.
"There is some moisture in the forecast," National Weather Service meteorologist Walter Snell told The Daily News on Wednesday afternoon. "I think we will have scattered showers throughout the weekend."
The tropical storm is predicted to deposit between 3 and 5 inches across the V.I., with some areas possibly seeing upwards of 8 inches, according to the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency.
ST. CROIX - Gov. Kenneth Mapp on Wednesday urged residents to take the necessary steps to protect themselves as Tropical Storm Erika pays a call on the territory today.
"We ask you all to stay safe, stay dry as much as possible and please make the appropriate decisions to protect your life, your family, your property and your businesses," Mapp said during a press conference at Government House in Christiansted Wednesday.
The attorney who in 2007 authored an opinion saying public funds could be used to pay for security improvements to the governor's private residence abruptly left his V.I. Justice Department job on Monday, less than a week after the agency filed criminal charges against former Gov. John deJongh Jr.
Elliott Davis had been with the Justice Department off and on for years, including a number of years working as solicitor general.
ST. THOMAS - Rumors circulating around St. Thomas that work has stopped on the Brookman Road project because the V.I. government has not paid the contractor, Island Roads, are not true, according to officials connected with the project.
"We have been paid and the crews have been there," said Island Roads President Andy Smith. "We never pulled off. We have been paid, and as soon as this weather clears up, we'll lay the asphalt."
With the non-impact of Hurricane Danny - which fizzled past the territory, leaving it almost as dry as it was a week ago - still fresh, the V.I. government agencies have not been quite as quick to announce changes to hours or instigate special storm procedures.
By press time this morning, only two agencies had announced changes because of the approach of Tropical Storm Erika.
The Economic Development Authority canceled until further notice a public hearing that was scheduled for Thursday, and Government House postponed a meeting Gov. Kenneth Mapp had scheduled for Thursday with the St. Thomas-St. John Taxi Associations. That meeting has been rescheduled for 5 p.m. Sept. 1 on the second floor of Government House on St. Thomas.
ST. CROIX - Unpredictable weather continues to challenge V.I. agriculture.
Tropical storms threatening the territory this week caused the Agriculture Department to close its abattoir's doors, which are now scheduled to reopen next week, Agriculture Commissioner Carlos Robles told The Daily News on Tuesday.
Farmers, he said, are encouraged to call the slaughtering facility to make appointments and to keep communication about operating hours uninterrupted.
Less than a week after filing criminal charges against former Gov. John deJongh Jr., Acting Attorney General Claude Walker removed the lead prosecutor from the Justice Department's White Collar Crime/Public Corruption Unit.
Assistant Attorney General Denise George-Counts, who successfully led prosecutions against a number of former government officials on corruption charges in recent years, will be reassigned to the Justice Department's Criminal Division to prosecute regular crimes, Walker said.
Gov. Kenneth Mapp has named Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Devin Carrington to the board of directors for the V.I. Water and Power Authority.
Carrington serves at the governor's pleasure and his term shall be as long as he remains in his respective position, according to a brief press release Government House issued Tuesday.
WAPA is governed by a nine-member board of public and private sector members.
Seaborne Airlines issued its storm policy on Tuesday for customers who may be impacted by Tropical Storm Erika, which is expected to affect travel to, from and through the Caribbean in the coming days.
Passengers should check flight status frequently at seaborneairlines.com for information about their flight plans.
As of press time this morning, the following Seaborne flights have been cancelled:
The National Weather Service is again forecasting 2 to 4 inches of rainfall, this time starting on Thursday afternoon and continuing into Friday morning as Tropical Storm Erika moves across the territory.
Danny was predicted to deliver similar amounts, but ended up depositing only 1 to 2 inches in high rainfall areas, which mainly were over the sea, according to the Weather Service.
Although Hurricane Hunter planes and the National Hurricane center said late Tuesday night that Tropical Storm Erica is poorly organized, it continued speeding toward the territory on a track that put the storm's center on top of St. Thomas and St. John sometime Thursday afternoon.
In its 11 p.m. update, the National Hurricane Center put the U.S. Virgin Islands under a tropical storm watch, which means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.
ST. THOMAS - The Moravian Church V.I. Conference and the Coastal Zone Management Commission will meet in September to discuss the government's need to have floating docks on church property permitted and approved.
If the docks are not brought into compliance then they must be removed.
"It is our hope that during our meeting we can achieve an amicable resolution on the matter that is in the best interest of the church and the St. John community," said Superintendent Eulencine Christopher of the conference.
ST. THOMAS - Two St. Thomas men made their initial appearances in federal court Tuesday on firearms charges that resulted from joint investigations conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the V.I. Police Department.
Michael Lewis, 27, and Lued Browne, 44, were advised of their rights in separate cases by U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller.
Lewis was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, two counts of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, and the local offenses of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of an unlicensed firearm.
The St. John Bike Rodeo will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Julius Sprauve School ballfield in Cruz Bay.
The purpose of the rodeo is to ensure that children preparing themselves for the new school year on St. John become aware of their responsibility as owners of bicycles; bicycle operation, bike safety and maintenance.
The V.I. Motor Vehicles Bureau will be licensing bicycles for $15. St. Thomas/St. John Weed and Seed will be there to hand out bike helmets, bike safety tips, back-to-school supplies and a special visit is expected by McGruff - the Crime Dog.
Kernan L. McLuster
We announce the passing of Kernan McLuster on Wednesday, August 19, 2015, he was 57 years old.
He is survived by his two children, Kernan McLuster Jr., and Tanya Marquez; granddaughter, Aralyn; four sisters, Alexis Holdman, Tracy Elazier (Kenneth), Rory McLuster (Marcus), and Karen Barros (Steven) along with other friends and family too numerous to mention.
A small celebration of his life will be held at Coconuts Bar and Grill, St. Thomas, on Friday, August 28, 2015, at 1:00 p.m.
Lassington "Jacko" Jackson
With deep regret we announce the passing of Lassington "Jacko" Jackson, who passed away on August 15, 2015.
Funeral services will start with a viewing on Thursday, August 27, 2015, at Turnbull's Funeral Home from 5 to 7 p.m. and his second viewing will be held at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church on August 28, 2015, from 9 to 10 a.m. The funeral service will follow at 10 a.m. Interment will follow at Western Cemetery No. 2.
Albertha Rebecca Oliver Francis
Funeral services will be held Saturday for Albertha Rebecca Oliver Francis, former director of Personel of the Foster Grandparents Program, of Bordeaux, St. Thomas, who died Aug. 18, 2015.
She was born on March 14, 1936, and is from Cork Hill Village, Monteserrat, W.I.
The wake/first viewing will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at Turnbull's Funeral Home.
The final viewing will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Thomas Assembly of God Church in Contant, with the services following.
Helen G. Burke
Family and friends are advised of the passing of Helen G. Burke, who went to heaven on August 14, 2015.
Funeral services will be on Thursday, August 27, 2015, with a viewing from 9:00-10:00 a.m. at Holy Family Church. Her home-going service will be at 10:00 a.m. Interment will follow at the Eastern Cemetery.
She is survived by Daughters: Milagro Burke, Carol Molyneaux, Clar
ST. THOMAS - The West Indian Company Ltd. released an updated cruise ship schedule on Monday that lists those ships that have changed itineraries because of the weather.
- The Norwegian Getaway and Carnival Glory, which were scheduled to arrive at Havensight today, have canceled.
- Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, which was scheduled to arrive at Crown Bay today, has canceled.
- Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, which was scheduled to arrive at Havensight on Wednesday, has canceled.
The tropical depression that was Hurricane Danny a few days ago will continue to bring some rain to the territory today while Tropical Storm Erika formed Monday night about 800 miles east of the Lesser Antilles and is forecast to generate more precipitation later this week.
Air Force Hurricane Hunter planes indicated Monday morning that Danny degenerated into a trough of low pressure, according to National Hurricane Center reports.
The San Juan passport office has reopened and is able to assist Virgin Islands residents who need expedited passports for applicants needing to travel internationally within two weeks.
Virgin Islands customers are welcome to travel to Puerto Rico to be accommodated; however, all applicants will need to present proof of travel to the San Juan Passport Agency.
The San Juan Passport office was closed in April for renovations, and according to the U.S. State Department, service times from the V.I. Passport Acceptance facilities currently are three weeks for the expedited service, and four to six weeks for the routine service.
ST. THOMAS - The National Weather Service is warning of a high risk of rip currents through tonight as the remnants of Tropical Storm Danny skirt the territory and head west.
The Weather Service said the rip currents will be a threat at most of the beaches in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
"People, boaters, swimmers shouldn't be going out during the passing of the storm," said Ricardo Castrodad, a Coast Guard spokesman in San Juan. "Even though the storm may be farther away, as it passes people should be staying away from the water," he said.