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Press Releases & Statements

For Immediate Release

August 26, 2015

VIPA Update: Status of Ports as Tropical Storm Erika Approaches the USVI

Special Needs Shelters Open on St. Croix and St. Thomas

Virgin Islands Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe provided the public with an update regarding the US Virgin Islands’ airports and seaports as the agency prepares for the arrival of Tropical Storm Erika which is expected to affect the territory on Thursday.


There are no plans to close the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix or the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas today, said Dowe. VIPA will make an assessment and determine if the airports will be open tomorrow, August 27. The Port Authority is in constant communication with the airlines and will report any flight cancellations it receives.

Reported Flight Cancellations: LIAT, Ltd. Aug. 27th – all flights.


In the event of a storm, the US Coast Guard takes the lead in the closure and re-opening of the seaports, said Dowe. The US Coast Guard has determined that all seaports in the territory will be closed at 6 p.m. today to all inbound commercial vessels. Ferry service to Tortola, BVI will be provided by Native Son from the E. W. Blyden Marine Terminal at 2:30 p.m. and from the Urman Fredericks Marine Terminal in Red Hook at 3:30 p.m. Ferry and barge service between St. Thomas and St. John will continue through midnight today. 

The seaports will be closed to all vessels on Thursday, August 27 at 6 a.m. No ferry or barge services will be allowed. The US Coast Guard will determine when the seaports can be re-opened once the storm has passed, Dowe said.

The public is reminded to call the airlines, ferry and barge services directly for accurate schedule information.

Special Needs Shelters Open on St. Croix and St. Thomas

The Department of Health has opened its Special Needs Shelters at the Charles Harwood Memorial Complex on St. Croix and at the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas.

The Special Needs Shelters are for persons needing medical assistance during emergency evacuation situations. Special needs are independent individuals with special medical support equipment needs or receive care in the home from a family member. Those eligible for the Special Need Shelters have physical or mental condition that require medical/nursing oversight that cannot be accommodated or provided for in a general population shelter.

Special Needs individuals meet the following criteria:

People with minor health/medical conditions that require professional observation, assessment and maintenance

People with contagious health conditions that require precautions or isolation which cannot be handled in a general population shelter

People with chronic conditions that require assistance with activities of daily living but do not require hospitalization

People with regular need for medications and/or regular vital sign readings and who are unable to do so without professional assistance

Individuals should bring medical equipment, such as oxygen tanks, if necessary; and all medication and dietary supplies to the Special Needs shelters. Further, when the person requiring special needs care is ordered to evacuate, he or she is expected to bring a caregiver with them to the shelter. The caregiver is expected to remain with the special needs person.

Department of Health nurses assigned to staff the Special Needs Shelters will assist individuals and their caregivers as needed for basic support services. The nursing staff will provide support within their scope of practice based on their training and qualifications and are not expected to provide total care beyond their professional level of expertise. A DOH physician will supervise the nurses.