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Press Releases & Statements

_______________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release

August 27, 2015

Tropical Storm Erika Forecasted to Bring Significant Rain to the Territory

VITEMA Advises Residents in Flood Prone Areas to Seek Shelter

Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for USVI and Puerto Rico. A Flash Flood Watch is in effect for the USVI and Puerto Rico through Friday morning.

At 5 p.m. the center of Erika was located near 16.6 degrees North, 64 degrees west or about 93 miles to the south-southeast of St. Croix. The tropical storm has begun a track to the west-northwest at 15 miles per hour and that track should continue through Saturday. Top winds are near 45 miles per hour with higher gusts and no significant change in intensification is expected during the next two days. 

Based on the current forecast, Erika will make the closest point of approach to the territory at 9 p.m. this evening when the storm center is forecast to be some 32 miles to the south-southwest of St. Croix. At that time, Erika's top winds are expected on the order of 45-50 miles per hour. 

Tropical storm force winds will arrive to St. Croix by 7 p.m. and last for at least nine hours with the peak winds of 48 miles per hour at about 8 p.m. St. Thomas and St. John will begin to experience sustained tropical storm force winds at 8 p.m. continuing for about eight hours with the peak winds of 44 miles per hour being experienced at 10 p.m. 

The next update will be issued at or about 8 p.m. 

Residents Living Near Low-Lying and Flood-Prone Areas Advised to Seek Shelter Now

“The center of Tropical Storm Erika is forecasted to pass 32 south southeast of St. Croix,” said VITEMA Director Mona Barnes. “We expected this system to produce a significant amount of rain over the territory. We expect to experience high winds and heavy rainfall for several hours. Projections are for four to eight inches of accumulated rainfall and sustained winds of up of 45 miles per hour.”

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash flood watch for the territory and we anticipate a flood warning will also be issued. 

“Our concern is for the safety of those living in low-lying and flood prone areas” Barnes. “I am advising residents in these areas to seriously consider riding out the storm at the shelter. The shelters are located at Herbert Grigg Home on St. Croix, Knud Hansen Complex on St. Thomas and the Julius Sprauve and Guy Benjamin schools on St. John.” 

Again, we are forecasted to receive significant rainfall with tropical storm Erika. If you live in a low-lying area or in a flood prone zone, we are advising you to consider seeking shelter. If you decide to so, now is the time to head there.

General Population Shelters & Pet Sheltering

Shelters opened territorywide at 6 p.m. Wednesday, at the following locations: 

  • Herbert Grigg Home on St. Croix
  • Knud Hansen Complex on St. Thomas 
  • Julius Sprauve School and Guy Benjamin Elementary School on St. John.

Bring the following items:

  • Special foods for dietary needs for 24 to 72 hours
  • One complete change of clothing
  • Sleeping bag and pillow
  • Rain gear
  • Toiletries
  • Medications and first aid supplies
  • ID and other valuable documents
  • Games, cards and toys (for youngsters)
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlight and radio
  • Games toys and reading material for children
  • Baby formula for infants 

Individuals needing the service of a seeing eye-dog may have their service animals with them.

Special Medical Needs Shelters are open for individuals with medical conditions needing shelter. Shelters are located at:

  • Charles Harwood Clinic on St. Croix.
  • Roy Lester Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas.

Sea Ports/Ferry - The US Coast Guard closed all sea ports to inbound commercial traffic at midnight Wednesday. 

Solid Waste & Sewer System

The inflow and infiltration of storm water into the sewer system may displace manhole covers and exceed the pumping capacity at wastewater pump stations. Pedestrians and motorists are advised to proceed with caution when traversing flooded roadways, where manhole covers may have been displaced by system overflows. During this rain event until the rain and the storm water run-off subside, the sewer collection system may continue to be impacted.

Residents are asked to report any overflows and displaced manhole covers to the VIWMA at (340) 715-9100 on St. Thomas; (340) 712-4962 on St. Croix and (340) 774-2141 on St. John. The Report-A-Problem link on the Authority’s website, www.viwma.org, can also be used.

Bin and debris collection sites are closed today.

For assistance call VITEMA at 340-773-2244 on St. Croix, 340-774-2244 on St. Thomas and 340-776-2244 on St. John.

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