ST. CROIX, Virgin Islands – The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) announced Friday that electricity had been restored to all eligible customers in the territory.
In the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria, two Category 5 storms in September, approximately 55,000 customers of WAPA were left without service. A joint effort by WAPA, FEMA, Haugland Energy, BBC Electric, mutual aid utilities, other off-island contractors and on-island contractors led to the restoration of service to 90 percent of eligible customers within 100 days. Crews have worked since December 25 to push the restoration total to 100 percent.
As of March 8, WAPA reported that 55,584 customers able to receive energy had been connected to the system, including 25,546 on St. Croix, 3,611 on St. John, 26,290 on St. Thomas and 137 on Hassel Island and Water Island.
“This is a milestone that everyone should be proud of,” said WAPA Executive Director Lawrence J. Kupfer. “Although I only assumed the leadership of WAPA on March 1, as a resident of St. Croix I am mindful of the dedicated effort of everyone who assisted in restoring service to our customers. It was a herculean task to get to 90 percent in 100 days and a greater task to achieve 100 percent six months after the first winds of Irma affected the territory.”
Kupfer also recognized the critical support provided by local and federal government agencies, private sector companies and organizations that played a part in WAPA’s restoration.
At the height of the restoration, more than 797 off-island electrical workers were in the territory restoring service. Today, just over 200 remain, augmenting local companies and WAPA in completing restoration and in performing other post-hurricane related work.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 (voice, 711/VRS - Video Relay Service)
(TTY: 800-462-7585). Multilingual operators are available (press 2 for Spanish).
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
To donate or volunteer, contact the voluntary or charitable organization of your choice through the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) at www.nvoad.org. For those who wish to help, cash donations offer voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources and pumps money into the local economy to help businesses recover. The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands also has the “Fund for the Virgin Islands” at www.USVIrecovery.org.