CHRISTIANSTED, St Croix – Governor of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), Kenneth Mapp, says he is satisfied with the progress made in rehabilitating the country, eight months after it was battered by two category five Hurricanes.
Mapp was speaking to the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) on the sidelines of a major exhibition highlighting the recovery of the agriculture and business sectors on the four territories of St Croix, St Thomas, St Johns and Water Island.
The 47th annual agricultural food fair, known as Agrifest, is a display of agriculture products, livestock, arts and craft and local cuisine ends here on Monday.
Mapp strongly rejected suggestions that the territories appear to have been ignored by the Federal administration in their recovery efforts.
“Look around, you can see for yourself that this does not look like a place that eight months ago, endured two Category five storms, which devastated three hospitals, twelve schools, completely displacing seven departments and agencies, including fire and police stations and universities.”
He said while people’s expectations are usually high of any administration, with that level of destruction there is no way that in one year anyone can tell you,” all is back is order: this is not a spin but a process that will take at least five to seven years.”
Mapp, who will be seeing re-election in November this year, was sworn in as Governor on January 5th 2015.
He is reported to have inherited several challenges, including a government on the brink of financial collapse, a shrinking private sector, and underpaid labour force and the lost of the territory’s largest employer.
A statement released by his office claims that under his stewardship many of the difficulties facing the USVI prior to last year’s hurricanes have been addressed.
However, the governor says that reviving the economy of the USVI following last September’s devastation remains his most demanding task yet, but applauds the Federal government for the financial support already received in support of their recovery efforts.
“To date we qualify for US$8 billion of Federal Disaster relief for the four islands and what we have done is to accept complete responsibility for our recovery and response,” he said explaining that two days before the hurricanes, they worked almost daily to ensure that their requests and priorities would be understood in making submissions to the White House.
Mapp said that his administration hosted over 110 members of the US Congress to visit the USVI and see for themselves the level of destruction and how Americans resident on the islands were affected.
“So while we have our issues, we were not ignored by the administration. We continue to work with them in the interest of the development of our people,” the Governor stressed.
He also discounted suggestions that other US destinations which also suffered from the destructive forces of the same weather systems such as California, Houston, Florida, Miami and Puerto Rico were given priority over the USVI in terms of assistance.
“In fact of all the five locations struck, St John’s is ahead of all of them as we are now doing our mitigation, installing the electrical grid, and our stand-by power generation. We have also submitted our plans as to how we will rebuild houses ensuring that they stand a better chance against the mega storms,” he explained. (CMC)