V. I. government needs to prepare now to prevent storm floods in Frederiksted
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The Webster New World College Dictionary lists various definitions of community, ranging from the first general meaning: "all the people living in a particular district, city, etc." to the seventh more specific meaning: "a) the condition of living with others, b) friendly association; fellowship." It is the latter I am addressing.
Earth is the largest community of human beings, and steadily decreases to smaller communities: continents, countries, states, etc. until we reach small towns like the Town of Frederiksted.
In my opinion, all small towns should operate according to the seventh meaning with additional specificity: The community should work to maintain its sustainability and encourage mental and spiritual growth as it works toward making its citizens comfortable, happy and contented in their community.
Towns have smaller communities: blocks, apartment buildings, connecting yards, etc., and finally individuals. All, except individuals, are geographic communities. Individuals then organize human communities based on commonalities: political parties, governmental departments, civic groups, clubs, sports teams, etc.
A successful community is based on the fulfillment of human needs. Let us consider this in light of the presence of hurricane season.
Frederiksted floods in areas during Hurricane season. Certain streets are affected more than others are, in particular, King, Queen and Prince Streets at their northern ends, as well as mid-street. Some homes in these low-lying areas flood from the build-up of water. Many drainage guts are severely compromised. They are clogged with mud, decomposing leaves and litter and if there is grating protecting the drain hole, it is compounding the problem by enhancing the accumulation of debris. If the mud is in the drainage gut proper, thick grass has begun to grow in the mud. All of this will limit the flow of water from the higher parts of town to the lower parts and cause street flooding and street blockage with debris after tropical storms.
Thankfully, the Public Works Department recently started cleaning the drainage system in the areas with large amounts of mud build-up. However, manpower is limited (probably because of diminished employees as result of budget cuts). It will take the crew quite a while to finish. It is the end of July and the heavy showers of the tropical hurricane season will soon be upon us. Will the entire system get cleaned/
Why is this important? When the streets and guts are flooded, shop owners cannot reach their stores to aid the community, essential employees cannot get to their "posts" rapidly, and all employees that live on the "wrong side" of the flooded area are hindered, affecting job attendance and community assistance until the streets are cleared. The amount of debris requiring "clean-up" after storms is increased due to poor drainage and thus costlier. Sitting water harbors mosquitoes and, consequently, increases the possibility of spreading any diseases they carry.
My understanding is that Public Works is in charge of the maintenance of the drainage system. As an Our Town Frederiksted volunteer, I have left messages for Assistant Commissioner Dennis Brow asking him to attend a meeting on August 2 to discuss a schedule of regular maintenance on the drainage system in Frederiksted, before hurricane season, so that it is not a crisis each year. I have left many messages. We acknowledge that it is pre-budget hearing time. However, I hope that two hours to facilitate the safety and ease of movement of the citizens of the Town of Frederiksted would be important to that department.
I am not implying that the assistant commissioner has to attend the meeting personally, although Our Town Frederiksted would appreciate it. The appropriate representative will be welcomed to discuss drain system maintenance as well as other Public Works responsibilities, such as the cemetery and sidewalks.
The meeting is at 10 a.m. Aug. 2 at the Our Town Frederiksted office. Vincent Ebbesen from Waste Management, Commissioner St. Clair Williams from Housing, Parks and Recreation and others have agreed to attend.
- LeVelle T. Henry, St. Croix