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Richards Requests Federal Disaster Declaration

Sept. 30, 2004 – Acting Gov. Vargrave Richards has written to President George W. Bush requesting that the U.S. Virgin Islands be declared a major disaster area as a result of Tropical Storm Jeanne and estimating damages at more than $6.3 million.
Richards made the request through Joseph Picciano, Federal Emergency Management Agency acting regional director.
Estimates released by Richards show a total of more than $3.8 million in damages to St. Croix, most of which – $3.4 million – was to utilities. St. Thomas showed a total of more than $2.4 million, $1.9 million of which was to utilities. St. John's estimates came in at $70,195, the bulk of which, nearly $44,000, was for damages to roads and bridges.
"On Monday, Sept. 20, a joint federal, territory, and local survey of the damaged areas was conducted and preliminary assessments indicate that the most severe impacts were the cancellation of airline departures and arrivals impacting the tourism-based economy; roads became impassable to pedestrians and to the motoring public; guts were clogged with sediment debris detouring outflow of water and sediment into public facilities, private homes and businesses; electrical power outages, particularly on the island of St. Croix; urban search and rescue activities on the islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix; and sewer systems clogged with sediment from mudslides into manholes," Richards wrote.
Tropical Storm Jeanne resulted in severe flooding, wind and roadway damage, landslides, and mudslides from Sept. 14 through 17, impacting the entire territory. Jeanne of course went on to strengthen into a hurricane, causing $5-8 billion in damages to Florida alone, according to National Public Radio on Thursday.
In a press release issued Thursday, Richards said that he expects the total V.I. expenditures to exceed a preliminary amount of $6,374,781. He said he has designated Ira R. Mills, director of the Office of Management and Budget, as the Territorial Coordinating Officer to work with FEMA.
Richards said that in response to the situation appropriate action was taken under state law and execution of the Emergency Plan was instituted on Sept. 14 in accordance with the Stafford Act. A State of Emergency for the entire territory was declared.
Damage estimates submitted as part of that paperwork include the following:
-Debris removal, $62,250 for St. Croix, $10,705 for St. John, $63,883 for St. Thomas.
-Emergency protective measures, $176,400 for St. Croix, $12,600 for St. John, $186,940 for St. Thomas.
-Roads and bridges, $12,850 for St. Croix, $43,710 for St. John, $186,940 for St. Thomas.
-Buildings and equipment, $95,259 for St. Croix, $1,880 for St. John, $117,415 for St. Thomas.
-Utilities, $3,458,483 for St. Croix, $1,300 for St. John, $1,951,036 for St. Thomas.
-Other (parks, recreational facilities), $10,550 for St. Croix, $0 for St. John, $105,400 for St. Thomas.
-Totals, $3,815,792 for St. Croix, $70,195 for St. John, $2,488,794 for St. Thomas.
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