The restoration of power on the islands of St. Thomas and St. John is a slow process because in many cases the primary lines are down and need to be reconstructed. According to the Water and Power Authority, the reconstruction has to happen before the power can be sent to the lines, even if undamaged, that connect to homes and businesses.
The Water Division continues to work with electrical crews to power the remaining pump stations. The restoration of the pump stations will facilitate the resumption of water service to areas including Contant Knolls and Savan. The Lindbergh Bay pump station was returned to service in the last few days.
We have some great news that The Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix reopened to commercial flights on October 5th.
USVI Governor Kenneth Mapp believes that cruise ships will return to the islands in the coming days. He’s been told by business leaders that Main Street in St. Thomas’ Charlotte Amalie and the Havensight Mall area are ready for customers.
The pier where the cruise ships dock was largely undamaged, according to the head of the West Indian Company Limited, which manages it.
You can also turn on the blue light because Kmart is open at all three locations in St. Thomas and St. Croix.
Some of the public schools will begin reopening on St. Thomas and more schools will open as repairs are complete and recovery efforts continue, according to Education Commissioner Sharon McCollum. The Army Corps of Engineers is installing generators in the remaining structurally sound schools.
We have some good news on the hotel front as well. Cruz Bay Hotel did not sustain any damage, which seems like an actual miracle. They are currently hosting FEMA and Red Cross workers who have booked the hotel through the end of October. The hotel says they are fully operational, running on generator power and city water, but only accepting new reservations beginning November 1st.
Other hotels weren’t so lucky and won’t be reopening any time soon.
Caneel Bay will not reopen for the 2017-2018 season and has laid off all of its staff through June 30, 2018. Bolongo Bay Beach Resort is currently looking to reopen in the second or third week of December as the resort is housing people in need and a multitude of workers trying to help the island. Bluebeard’s Castle Resort sustained major damage. Marriott Frenchman’s Reef and the Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas have advised the resorts are closed until further notice. Both resorts are waiving hotel cancellation and change fees for specific arrival dates. Customers should call 1-800-228-9290 (US) for more information about their reservations. Those in countries outside of the United States seeking information about their reservations should call the Marriott toll-free number in their country.
We also received confirmation of some very sad news this week. The sailboat we’ve loved since our first trip to St. Thomas, the Morningstar (previously named Winifred), is a total loss. We received an email from Captain Mike updating us on their status. He and his family are safe and sound but our instinct was right, the boat on the cover of the New York Times with its hull split open in Cruz Bay was the 60-year old sailing vessel. He acknowledged that she is a loss. Captain Mike wants to rebuild the business and get out on the water again. He has a lot of hurdles topped with red tape to overcome but is determined to sail again. He said she was the last to break from her moorings as the Cat. 5 rolled over them. Morningstar Charters is accepting donations as they work to rebuild their business and get back on the water.
We plan to keep these updates going because we don’t want anyone to forget that recovery takes a long time and the help of others. We’ll let you know more when we hear it and are still planning on visiting the islands in late November and will give you a first-hand progress report.