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Hurricane Supplication Day Passes Without Fanfare

July 23, 2006 – Monday was Hurricane Supplication Day, the day to hope and pray that the territory is again spared a catastrophic storm.
The holiday, along with Hurricane Thanksgiving Day in October, was once a government holiday with workers getting the day off and churches holding services.
Since the holidays fell prey to budget cutting in a previous administration, interest seems to have waned. Neither Government House nor the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency quite knew when the date fell. It took St. Thomas historian David Knight to get to the bottom of this mystery.
"It's the fourth Monday in July," he said.
This hurricane season, which began June 1, appears to be off to a normal start with only one storm, Tropical Storm Alberto, on the history books.
According to www.wunderground.com, at least one named storm developed during June in 29 out of the last 50 years.
While no one can say for sure how high the number will go by the time the 2006 hurricane season officially ends on Nov. 30, William Gray and his colleagues at Colorado State University predict the season will see 17 named storms, with nine becoming hurricanes. They think that five will become major hurricanes with winds over 111 mph.
This is a far cry from the 27 named storms, 15 hurricanes and seven intense hurricanes that formed during the record-breaking 2005 season, which saw 1,350 people dead from Hurricane Katrina alone. October's Hurricane Stan, which passed over the Yucatan Peninsula, killed another 1,500. According to www.wunderground, 3,000 people died during all of last season's hurricanes and tropical storms.
While the 2005 number seems high, the death total was slightly higher in 2004. A total of 3,000 people died in Hurricane Jeanne, which hit the Dominican Republic and Haiti as well as the Bahamas and Florida, along with 126 people in other storms. This brings the 2004 death total to 3,126.
The number of dead in 2003 stood at 50.
Virgin Islanders should now be in their advance preparation mode, VITEMA Director Harold Baker said.
He urged residents not to become complacent.
"Keep your eye on the weather forecast," he said.
He said residents should start gathering emergency food supplies and survival kits, put their documents in a safe place and learn where the nearest shelters are located.
Deputy Fire Chief Brian Chapman of St. John reminded residents not to run their generators indoors when the power is out.
"It is a dangerous practice," he said.
He said lethal carbon monoxide can build up. While he said he knows of no cases in the Virgin Islands where people died while running their generators indoors, media reports during previous hurricane seasons indicate that fatalities have occurred on the mainland.
Chapman warned residents not to overload extension cords when using generators, to fill generators in advance, to test them for actual electrical output before they're needed, to store fuel and flammable liquids away from the generator and not to fill generators while they're hot.
He also urged residents to have a fire extinguisher on hand while refueling.
Chapman also suggested that residents secure propane tanks with canvas straps or rope before a storm arrives. And, he said they should turn off the propane until the storm is over.
The remaining storm names for this season are Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie, and William. If the forecasters run out of names, as they did in 2005, they'll use the letters of the Greek alphabet.

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