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Governor at Noon:'Stay Indoors'

Sept. 16, 2004 – The message remained the same when Gov. Charles W. Turnbull gave his noon update on conditions in the territory as the result of torrential rains that accompanied the passage of Tropical Storm Jeanne through the territory. "Stay indoors."
At 6 a.m. the governor had reinstituted a state of emergency that remained in place at noon.
Flooding, debris and mud slides are making travel treacherous on all three islands. On Water Island Honeymoon Beach has been severely damaged. "Residents of Water Island are asked to stay away from the beach area," Turnbull said.
The National Weather Service in Puerto Rico has instituted a flash flood watch for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the governor said.
Up to 20 people had to be rescued since 2:30 a.m. Thursday from flooded areas. Police and rescue personnel pulled people from Sanchez Town in Nadir, Brookman Road, Smith Bay, and Bournefield, according to James O'Bryan Jr., St. Thomas administrator. The individuals were taken to the American Red Cross shelter at Nisky Moravian Church. However, as of noon none of the people remained at the shelter, which is now open to serve anyone displaced by the flooding.
O'Bryan said two representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were in the territory working with the V.I. Territorial Management Agency to assess damage. However, so far, no dollar amount had been attached to the damages. O'Bryan said Ira Mills, director of the Office of Management and Budget, would be the point person on the damage estimates. Damages from last November's two-week deluge were estimated at $30 million.
WAPA Assessment Update
Alberto Bruno-Vega said isolated areas in the St. Thomas-St. John district were still experiencing power outages, but that power had been restored to most other areas.
"St. Croix is our biggest challenge," Bruno-Vega said around noon Thursday.
Jeanne passed closest to St. Croix and therefore that's where much of the wind damage to lines and poles occurred, he said.
"People were surprised to see our crews out working at one o'clock in the morning to restore power," Bruno-Vega said. By late afternoon or evening much of the power that had been out all day Wednesday was restored.
All the main feeders on St. Croix were up and working as of midday Thursday.
Bruno-Vega said he was proud to report that 90 percent of power had been restored "on one day." But added, "We won't rest until the last customer is restored.
Bruno-Vega said "a couple of poles" were down on St. John and crews were out trying to take care of that situation.
Telephone lines throughout the territory remained relatively functional throughout the storm and ensuing rains. Tom Dunn, spokesman for Innovative Telephone told Radio One early Thursday morning the company was experiencing a few problems on St. Croix with buried lines and that cellular service was problematic.
Choice Communications experienced a brief e-mail problem Thursday morning, but seemed to have it solved by midday. Cingular Wireless and Sprint also had cellular phone problems, according to customers. Cingular's system was restored by mid morning. The status of Sprint service could not be determined as of publication.
Report indicate more of the same weather is expected, especially for St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island, until Saturday.
(See: "Cancellations, Postponements Due to Rain, Flooding" for an up-to-the minute listing of closings, cancellations, postponements and other weather related developments.)

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