U.S. Virgin Islands Declares State of Emergency for Hurricane Irma

By Jasonshortes - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 The U.S. Virgin Islands has issued a state of emergency as Hurricane Irma approaches.

The U.S. Virgin Islands has issued a state of emergency as Hurricane Irma has now become a dangerous Category 5 storm.

The state of emergency includes the islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, which are all under a hurricane warning. U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp said he has also activated the National Guard to help respond to the hurricane.

“This is not an opportunity to go outside and try to have fun with a hurricane,” U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp said during a press conference on Monday. “It’s not time to get on a surfboard.”

Government House -Hurricane Irma Update From Governor MappGovernor Ken Mapp updates the community about Hurricane Irma.2017-09-04T15:33:55.000Z

On Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said Hurricane Irma has become a dangerous Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 175 miles per hour and warned that “preparations should be rushed to completion in the hurricane warning area.”

The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center says “the dangerous core of Irma will move near or over portions of the northern Leeward Islands
tonight and early Wednesday.” Storm surges could reach 7 to 11 feet in some parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands and rainfall could be as much as 12 inches.

Government officials said sand bags are being distributed at the following locations:

St. Croix
Department of Public Works, Anna’s Hope
Department of Public Works, Frederiksted
Grove Fire Station
Cotton Valley Fire Station

St. Thomas
Department of Public Works
Bordeaux Fire Station
Tutu Fire Station

St. John
Department of Public Works

The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services closed all senior centers and Head Start Centers on Tuesday.

“The department, like the entire central government, is currently in disaster preparedness mode in light of updated information pertaining to Hurricane Irma,” DHS Commissioner Felecia Blyden said in a statement. “This closure is specific to the Richmond Senior Center on St. Croix, Strive Senior Center on St. Thomas, and the Adrian Senior Center on St. John. Equally important to this notice, please be advised that all DHS operated Head Start Centers will be closed.”

Government officials also released a list of shelters:

Shelters on St. John
Bethany Methodist Church
Julius Sprauve School

Shelters on St. Thomas
E. Benjamin Oliver School
Lockhart Elementary
Nisky Moravian Church
Knud Hansen Complex
Sugar Estate Head Start
Special Needs: Community Health Center

Shelters on St. Croix
St. Croix Educational Complex
Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged
Claude O. Markoe School

FEMAAn aerial view of the devastation caused in St. Thomas by Hurricane Marilyn in 1995.

The U.S. Virgin Islands was devastated by Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. More than 10,000 people were left homeless on St. Thomas and estimated damages reached $2 billion.

For more information, visit VIalert.gov.

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