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Cruz Bay
Friday, July 12, 2024


As dawn brought Virgin Islanders the welcome news that Hurricane Jose had diminished in strength to barely Category 1 status in the early hours of Thursday, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull announced that he was lifting the curfew on St. Croix at once and would call it off on St. Thomas and St. John as of 1 p.m.
The governor said he had received no reports of "injuries or damage of any consequence as a result of the storm" anywhere in the territory.
St. Croix escaped Jose's hurricane-force winds altogether, experiencing only the tropical storm-force winds overnight and mid-morning. As the system appeared to be breaking up this morning, there was a good possibility it would be downgraded to a tropical storm in the National Weather Service 11 a.m. advisory, local weather experts said.
The 8 a.m. coordinates placed the storm center at 18.4 north latitude and and 64.7 west longitude, very close to St. John. The highest sustained winds were 75 mph as the hurricane moved west to northwest at 14 mph, and rain was spotty.
St. Croix's Henry E. Rohlsen Airport reopened at 8:30 a.m. — after the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas resumed operations at 8:05. However, Delta Air Lines had announced on Wednesday that it was canceling its overnight flight that normally departs in the morning, and Brenda Boone of American Airlines said this morning that there would be no American service today. Port Authority nonessential airport personnel were to report to work this morning on St. Croix and this afternoon on St. Thomas.
In explaining his decision to continue the curfew on St. Thomas and St. John until 1 p.m., the governor said in a call-in to the first hour of "The Morning Show" on WSTA Radio, "Although it is rather calm now, we expect gusts of winds between 30 and 40 mph between 10 and 11 a.m."
Emergency shelters were closed at 9 a.m. on St. Croix and were to close as of the lifting of the curfew at 1 p.m. on St. Thomas and St. John, Turnbull said.
He said government offices and schools will remain closed today throughout the territory.
Office of Management and Budget director Ira Mills issued a call for members of the administration's "damage assessment team" to report to the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency headquarters on St. Thomas at 9:30 a.m. The team comprises representatives of the Planning and Natural Resources and Public Works Departments, the Housing Authority, the Internal Revenue Bureau and the Tax Assessor's Office, and "they know who they are," he said over WSTA Radio.
In broadcast messages, the governor asked commissioners and agency heads on St. Croix early this morning "to go and assess damage in their departments now." On St. Thomas and St. John, he said, "We would like that to be done after the 1 p.m. curfew is lifted." School principals were to report to their schools on the same bases in the two districts to conduct damage assessments.
Roan Creque of Public Works came on the air on WSTA to advise the trash haulers under government contract that as emergency service personnel they were exempt from the curfew and that they were needed to get out on the roads this morning to deal with overflowing garbage bins. Designated Vitelco and U.S. Postal Service personnel were to begin reporting to work this morning, exempt from the curfew, officials announced.
Turnbull thanked "everyone for being calm, for obeying the law," saying there had been "almost 100 percent compliance with the curfew, and I felt very proud of that." Terming the public response to the hurricane a "successful operation," he expressed thanks to the personnel of the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, the National Guard, Police and Public Works Departments, Water And Power Authority, Federal Emergency Management Agency, American Red Cross, churches and other charitable organizations "who left their homes and families behind to serve the Virgin Islands."
Turnbull said he had been and would continue to be making "rounds of the shelters and other points on the island of St. Thomas" to keep informed of the local situation. He said Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II and St. Croix administrator Rupert Ross have been doing the same thing on that island, and St. John administrators Julien Harley and Elvis Christian have been doing so on St. John.

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