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Crews Cleaning Up as Power Starts to Come Back

Sept. 15, 2004 — Debris, uprooted trees, and a few power poles littered the streets of St. Croix in the wake of Tropical Storm Jeanne. Jeanne passed 35 miles to the south of St. Croix late Tuesday bringing wind gusts up to 88 miles per hour and bands of heavy showers. Electrical power and telephone service has been interrupted throughout the island.
The Richmond Water and Power Authority plant was taken offline at approximately 2 a.m. Tuesday morning. According to a WAPA employee the shutdown was a result of water flow backing into the sumps and plant basement. According to a knowledgeable source an employee blocked off the storm drain that allows runoff water to drain into the ocean as a precautionary measure to prevent possible contaminants from entering the sea water. As a result, the drainage flowed back into the plant's sumps and basement where electrical machinery is housed causing the shutdown of the plant. "We have potential problems," Glenn Rothgeb, WAPA spokesman, said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon, but "that did not seem to be the problem."
Rothgeb said WAPA would be issuing a statement shortly.
As of 2 p.m. some sections of the island had been restored to power.
At the Sunny Isle intersection a two-foot deep pond of water impeded traffic. A Public Works Department crew worked to clear the drains. "The three drains are clogged," Tony Rivera, DPW director of operations, said. Rivera said DPW had been out since Tuesday night removing fallen trees and branches. "Crews are out all over the island."
Marla Matthews, St. Croix American Red Cross supervisor, said despite the heavy winds and rain during the night, it was not necessary to open shelters, but volunteers are standing ready. "We have pre-positioned teams at the Claude O. Markoe and the St. Croix Educational Complex Schools," Matthews said. "All our equipment is in place." She said the agency is monitoring the "hot spots" or areas that are prone to flooding, such as Estates Mon Bijou, La Grange and Water Gut. The Red Cross has 19 volunteers and is supported by an emergency response team of 15 Education Department personnel. "Red Cross volunteers spent the night at the center," Matthews said.
"Custodial workers, cooks and monitors will be activated when shelters open."
Matthews said the public can call 778-5715, the emergency Red Cross number. Volunteers are also monitoring storm conditions via ham radios.
On Hibiscus Street in the flood-prone Mon Bijou area, Daphne and Larry Bough are cautiously watching the weather and staying close to home. As of noon Wednesday there was no flooding of the area. "I'm not venturing out too far; the gas station is as far as I will go," Larry Bough said.
Sgt. Thomas Hannah, police spokesman, cautioned the public to stay off the roads. "If you don't need to be out, stay at home." Hannah said several areas of Melvin Evans highway and other roads are flooded making driving conditions hazardous.

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