The Danish Emergency Management Agency is sending an emergency team to the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist officials in recovery efforts following the widespread devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Royal Danish Consulate announced Thursday.
The U.S. Virgin Islands, which was once a Danish possession known as the Danish West Indies, was severely damaged when the two category five hurricanes battered the islands in September. Roads, harbors, airports, hospitals, electrical power and communication networks have been damaged or destroyed, according to on-the-ground reports.
“The U.S. Virgin Islands were severely damaged by the hurricanes in September, and critical infrastructure is still not working,” Denmark’s minister of Defence, Claus Hjort Frederiksen, confirmed in an news release announcing the aid.
“Because of Denmark’s special attachment to the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Danish government wants to assist in the recovery efforts. And in cooperation with U.S. Virgin Islands and U.S. authorities we have found a really good match between what is locally needed and what we have in terms of capabilities.”
The team will be divided into five subgroups to provide more efficient and rapid assistance to affected communities. The five subgroups consist of a management team that will coordinate all its efforts with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local authorities; a logistical team; and three fully equipped independent working teams.
They are expected to arrive in the territory by Saturday.
The Danish Ministry of Defence is financing the emergency assistance.
Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett cheered the news from Denmark.
“Because the U.S. Virgin Islands were severely damaged by the hurricanes in September critical infrastructure is still not working,” she said in an announcement from her office. “Due to Denmark’s special relationship with the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Danish government has decided to assist in the recovery efforts. After meeting with the Danish Ambassador to the United States here in Washington, DC we have found a really good match between what is needed locally and what the Danish government can provide in terms of capabilities.
According to Plaskett, the 14-member DEMA team will be devoted to restoring critical infrastructure, including the rebuilding of the Islands’ damaged schools.
The team is expected to remain in the territory 10 to 12 weeks.
“We look forward to working with the Danish government with these relief efforts. I expressed to the ambassador that the Danish government’s support will be greatly appreciated by the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Plaskett said.