More than $145 million in federal grant funding is now coming to help the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-U.S. Virgin Islands) announced the aid will help rebuild the islands, following last year’s devastating Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The grants come from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to rebuild everything from homes to hospitals.
“These grants are really going to be helpful in terms of support to our roads, support to the building that’s occurring right now,” said Plaskett, who is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy, and Environment, which helped secure the funding.
The first grant will benefit the V.I. Water and Power Authority and costs associated with permanent repairs to the electrical system components. The second: to help restore pad and utility connections Governor Juan F. Luis hospital for temporary trailers in response to Irma and Maria.
“The local government is actually drawing down the money and putting it to shovel and concrete,” Plaskett said.
The money is expected to go a long way to restoring life to normal. For example, students went to school in shifts last year. And they’re just getting mobile schools in now.
“Agreements have not been made by the federal government from federal agencies as to how much money they’re willing to put on the ground for that,” she added. “That’s problematic.”
The money will not only go toward rebuilding, but also rebuilding more strategically. Some utilities will go underground, Plaskett noted. The buildings themselves will be built to more modern strengths and codes, to ensure that fewer things will need rebuilt, the next time a major storm sweeps through the islands.