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Omar Tab Mounts as Recovery Efforts Continue

Oct. 21, 2008 — The bill for Hurricane Omar continues to mount as damage reports filter in. As of Tuesday, the tab for the Category 3 hurricane that swept over St. Croix's East End last week had reached $5.3 million.
The cost of hurricane-related damage increased steadily as more reports came in from various departments and agencies about damages sustained and as the assessment of the island continues, said Jonetta Darden, territorial public assistance officer for the V.I. government, in a Government House statement issued at the end of the workday Tuesday. Darden estimates that the assessment will be concluded by Thursday.
Meanwhile, three schools remained closed Tuesday and part of St. Croix is still without electricity and likely to remain so for at least a few more days. Classes will resume Wednesday at Alfredo Andrews and Charles Emmanuel elementary schools, but John H. Woodson Junior High School will remain closed. WAPA is working hard to restore power to Woodson, but did not offer any time line for its reopening, the governor said.
"I thank parents and guardians of students for their patience as we work steadily towards returning our daily lives to a level of normalcy," said Gov. John deJongh Jr. "It is a priority for WAPA to take the corrective action necessary for classes to resume as quickly as possible at the John H. Woodson Junior High School."
WAPA is focused on restoring power to the East End and other pockets that are still without power throughout the island, including Catherine's Rest — where there is significant wire damage — as well as the West End leading into the rain forest areas, where damage was also extensive, said Hugo Hodge Jr., Water and Power Authority executive director. Hodge said he hopes to have all power restored within the week to week and a half range he said was "previously indicated." WAPA will work with a private electrical contractor to restore power to the Herbert Grigg Home by Wednesday, Hodge said.
Public Works is also on the job restoring traffic signals, collecting storm debris and clearing the roadways. VITRAN buses are running again, and school buses should not encounter any difficulty on the routes Wednesday, the release from Government House said.
The Human Services Department has been authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to award a replacement of two weeks' worth of food-stamp assistance, according to the release. This assistance only applies to people who were enrolled in the Food Stamp Program before Hurricane Omar. Electronic benefits-transfer cards will be credited and the replacement funds will be available to program participants by Wednesday morning, said Commissioner Chris Finch.
The V.I. Waste Management Authority reports that all wastewater lift stations are back on electric power. No bypassing of wastewater is occurring. WMA is working to address compromised manholes, which affected operations at the Superior Court on St. Croix and which have been reported in the Mon Bijou and Frangipani communities.
"By end of Tuesday, work should be completed on repairs which have been underway since Monday in the vicinity of the Jarvis School Annex on St. Thomas," the authority reported.
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