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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, August 15, 2022


Sept. 11, 2001 – Following is information concerning events and operations in the Virgin Islands that has been announced as a result of the terrorists attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., Tuesday morning. This posting is being updated as additional information is received.
Notices may be e-mailed to source@viaccess.net. They may be faxed to 777-8136 or to (509) 267-3448.
Government House social functions canceled
"In light of the tragic events that transpired in New York City, Washington, D.C., and other parts of the U.S. mainland, all planned social receptions at Government House in both districts" have been canceled until further notice, according to an announcement from the administration's Office of Public Relations.
Mail for off-island restricted to 1 pound or less
Postmaster Louis Jackson, V.I. coordinator for the U.S. Postal Service, announced on Tuesday afternoon that post offices in the territory will not accept any parcels weighing more than 1 pound that are destined for the continental United States or international locales.
He said the restriction is because of the shutdown of the nation's airports. Similarly, he said, until further notice, timely delivery of Express Mail letters and parcels cannot be guaranteed.
Seaplanes included in FAA shutdown
Along with all of the nation's land-based air carriers, Seaborne Airlines has been ordered by the Federal Aviation Administration to suspended flights flights of its seaplanes until at least noon Wednesday. "We are awaiting word from the FAA," chief marketing officer Omer ErSelcuk said. "After we get the go ahead, we will put on extra flights if necessary to get everybody back home."
ErSelcuk said the airline's recently inaugurated flight from San Juan had just landed on St. Thomas as news of the grounding was received. As a result, "Now, we have three planes waiting on St. Thomas," he said. He said Seaborne will do everything it can to help move passengers on Wednesday, assuming the FAA lifts the suspension. "Like everybody else," he said, "we're still in a state of shock."
Mourning service to be held on St. Thomas
Members of all faiths are invited to an ecumenical Mourning Service that will be held Wednesday evening at the St. Thomas Reformed Church as a response to the terrorist attacks.
The service is to begin at 5:15 p.m. in the historic Dutch Reformed house of worship located at the corner of Nye Gade and Crystal Gade in downtown Charlotte Amalie.
Local blood drive called for to assist victims
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg said Tuesday afternoon that he has asked the local chapters of the American Red Cross to help organize a blood drive in the Virgin Islands to assist those injured in the terrorist attacks. A release from his office noted that communities across the U.S. mainland are undertaking similar efforts.
Veterans Affairs office closed
Fernando Webster, director of the Office of Veterans Affairs, said Tuesday that the St. Thomas office will be closed until further notice. Anyone needing emergency service is asked to call 773-6663.
Hearing on V.I. Hotel conversion postponed
The Labor and Veterans Affairs Committee hearing scheduled for Wednesday evening at the Legislature Building on St. Thomas has been postponed until further notice. The hearing was to share information on plans to turn the former Virgin Isles Hotel into a veterans' multipurpose center.
"Several of the investment bankers and developers scheduled to testify … are unable to travel due to the security now being enforced at all airports throughout the nation," the committee chair, Sen. Norma Pickard-Samuel, said in a release. The hearing will be rescheduled, she said.
Telecommunications security heightened
Holland Redfield, vice president for corporate affairs of Innovative Communication Corp., the parent company of the Innovative Telephone, formerly the V.I. Telephone Corp., said Tuesday afternoon that all ICC facilities were on heightened alert and taking security precautions. He declined to provide details.
Innovative also owns the St. Thomas-St. John and St. Croix cable television companies, Innovative Wireless and four other Caribbean cable companies.
Hospitality sector concerns
Asked what impact she thought the terrorist attacks would have on tourism in the Virgin Islands, Beverly Nicholson, executive director of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, said Tuesday afternoon, "I'm concerned about the impact, but right now our hearts go out to the families." She also said member hotels have activated their "normal disaster plans."
Kathy Demar, who manages vacation villas on St. John, said she fears the worst will happen to the territory's tourism-based economy. "How many people will not get on a plane now?" she wondered. However, Nicholson said she thinks people will continue to visit the territory because the American flag flies overhead. "People will feel safer," she said.
Nicholson said that with airports on both islands and throughout the nation closed, guests would be remaining at least over Tuesday night. Hotels were making arrangements to accommodate them, she said.
Wendall Snider, president of the St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association, said hotels on St. Croix are "on the empty side" at this time of year, so accommodating guests unable to leave is not a problem. He said the federal government did the right thing in shutting down airports across the country as a security measure.
VITEMA advises vulnerable
Clayton Sutton, V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency director in St. Thomas, said VITEMA officials have advised all vulnerable areas in the territory to take precautions. He included the Water and Power Authority, telecommunications companies including Innovative Telephone, the hospitals, and the ports on his list.
In planning to deal with disasters, Sutton said, "We try to brainstorm as many circumstances as possible." He noted that terrorist attacks are among those circumstances.
Security stepped up at WAPA facilities
Joseph R. Thomas Jr., executive director of the Water and Power Authority, said the utility has stepped up security at all of its facilities. In addition to its staff security personnel, he said, WAPA has V.I. National Guard personnel on patrol. Thomas said he does not feel that facilities in the Virgin Islands would be a target of the terrorists who attacked on the mainland Tuesday but that it was best to be prepared for any eventuality.
Security increased at Hovensa
The Hovensa oil refinery stepped up its security when news of the attack reached St. Croix, according to Alex Moorhead, vice president for government affairs and community relations. "We have 24-7 security," he said. "We just tightened it up."
He said the huge refinery, one of the largest in the world, has a disaster plan. But should an airplane dive-bomb into the installation, as those did in the New York and Washington Tuesday morning, Hovensa could not be able to defend itself.
Caneel Bay beefs up security
At Caneel Bay Resort in St. John, the staff stepped up security on the advice of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, rooms manager James Dalmida said. "We're looking for unusual vehicles and suspicious people," he said. He noted that guests were having to remain at the resort due to the closing of Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas.
Dalmida said one guest was a World Trade Center worker who would have been at his desk on Tuesday if he hadn't decided to extend his vacation by one day. Dalmida also said other guests had family and friends who worked at the center. Our main concern is caring for them," he said.
Police, firefighters placed on readiness
Police Commissi
oner Franz Christian in agreement with Fire Services Director Ian Williams Sr. issued an advisory on Tuesday afternoon to the effect that all law-enforcement personnel in the territory "should be diligent" in the inspection of the territory's docks, ports, hospitals, the Water and Power Authority, all government buildings and the Hovensa refinery.
Christian and Williams said Police Department and Fire Services personnel should remain in readiness in the event that the mainland attacks "have any causal effect" upon the Virgin Islands.
V.I. airports closed like all other
Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas and Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix are closed until further notice to both departing and arriving traffic, the Port Authority confirmed. The Federal Aviation Administration ordered the closing of all airports across the United States around 10 a.m. Tuesday, until further notice.
American Airlines flight No. 655 out of New York's JFK International Airport was the last to fly into St. Thomas as scheduled. As of 11:36 a.m., no further planes were being allowed to land. Port Authority officials said no flights would be coming in or out of the airports throughout the day Tuesday, and the closure would be
until further notice.
Security teams were making sweeps of the airports as a cautionary action, but there were no indications of specific security questions in connection with the Virgin Islands airports, according to Monifa Marrero in the Port Authority public relations office. "It was just a general security assessment," she said about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Casino commission meeting rescheduled

The regular meeting of the Casino Control Commission that had been scheduled for Wednesday has been rescheduled for Sept. 19, at 9:30 a.m. at the commission offices in Orange Grove in Christiansted. On the agenda for consideration are casino employee licenses, casino servicing entity licenses, authorization for the operation of new casino games, and the required preparation for implementation of the recent act legalizing Internet gaming in the Virgin Islands.
No indication of cruise ship changes
Calvin Wheatley, spokesman for the West Indian Co., said the two cruise ships scheduled to call in the territory Tuesday were already in port at St. Thomas when the attacks occurred. He expected details on whether they would remain in port or depart as scheduled by mid-afternoon. "The port remains open," he said.
Angelica Rios, secretary of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, based in Pembroke Pines, Fla., just north of Miami, said the association has received no information from cruise lines concerning any plans to change ship itineraries.
St. Croix Senate hearing on block grants canceled
The Legislature Committee of the Whole meeting scheduled for Tuesday night at the Legislature building in Frederiksted has been canceled, Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd said. The meeting was to address the proposed apportioning of federal Community Development Block Grant funds.
DPNR offices close for security assessment
Planning and Natural Resources offices located at Cyril E. King Airport were closed while airport staff assessed security, Commissioner Dean Plaskett said in a news release.

Editor's note: Contributing to these reports were Source staff members Shaun Pennington, Jean Etsinger, Molly Morris, Lynda Lohr and Jim Day.

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