President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Thursday, just days after Hurricane Maria battered the territory with massive Category 5 winds.
“The president’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals on the island of St. Croix,” the White House said in a statement.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
Federal funding is available to the territory and to certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in all of the islands in the territory.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures throughout the territory.
On September 6, Hurricane Irma pummeled the U.S. Virgin Islands, with most of the damage affecting St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island. Then on September 19, Hurricane Maria hit the islands, this time targeting St. Croix.
Just before Hurricane Maria hit on Tuesday night, Trump tweeted to the people of Puerto Rico, but did not mention the U.S. Virgin Islands.
St. Croix suffered massive damage from Hurricane Maria. Roofs were blown off, roads have been flooded and much of the island is without electricity. A 24-hour curfew has been put in place, according to the St. Croix source.
U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp released a statement on Thursday telling residents to stay off the roads.
“Effective immediately, a 24-hour curfew must be in place on all four islands until further notice. Your presence on the roads during the curfew hours will only hamper clean-up efforts, and could delay the distribution of critically needed supplies,” Mapp said.
“As difficult as things are, Virgin Islanders are resilient, and we will come through this together even stronger. Your Government is doing everything in its power to restore our infrastructure and our communities,” he said.
Hurricane Maria has been downgraded to a Category 3 storm and is currently heading for the Turks & Caicos islands.