FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor. Center left, and FEMA’s V.I. Recovery Director Jacquelyn Heyliger

listen as Government of the Virgin Islands officials discuss critical recovery projects that need to be expedited.

 

FEMA Pledges to Expedite Territory’s Recovery 

Through Closer Collaboration with Virgin Islands Government

 

US VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr., Office of Disaster Recovery Director Adrienne L. Williams-Octalien and Virgin Islands Emergency Management Agency Director Daryl Jaschen met with Federal Emergency Management Agency Acting Administrator Peter Gaynor and FEMA’s U. S. Virgin Islands Recovery Director Jacquelin Heyliger to expedite major recovery projects in the Territory tied to health, roads, power, housing, and schools.

Friday’s meeting continues the ongoing discussion between Governor Bryan and Acting Administrator Pete Gaynor. In October, Governor Bryan and his senior staff met with Acting Administrator Gaynor in Washington, D.C., and invited him to the Territory to continue the discussion and to see firsthand the status of the recovery.

Governor Bryan, who attended Friday’s meeting via teleconference, expressed his gratitude for FEMA’s continued support in the recovery process but also conveyed his frustration with the slow pace of the critical work to restore the U.S. Virgin Islands’ hospitals and schools and to fix the Territory’s roads.

The Governor cited issues related to local FEMA staff turnover coupled with being required to revisit decisions on projects that have already been vetted as exacerbating an already slow federal disaster recovery process.

He also emphasized the need to finalize key decisions related to the STEP program so that funding can be released to pay contractors that are owed.

On Friday, Acting Administrator Gaynor said he is willing to work with the Territory to push the projects forward and expedite progress on them.

Director Williams-Octalien indicated that Friday’s meeting with Acting Administrator Gaynor would help spur the Territory’s recovery from the devastating hurricanes in 2017.

“FEMA made commitments and settled on goals to finish school inspections to begin the rebuilding process and to get major road projects finalized so repairs can proceed,” Director Williams-Octalien said after the meeting.

Office of Disaster Recovery Director Adrienne Williams-Octalien talks about essential recovery projects

alongside Governor Bryan’s Chief of Staff Karl Knight and VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen, left.

Following the meeting Friday at Government House, Gov. Juan Luis Hospital (JFL) Acting CEO Dyma Williams and JFL Project Manager Yvonne Thomas led ODR Director Williams-Octalien, FEMA Acting Administrator Gaynor, and V.I. Recovery Director Heyliger on an extensive tour of the medical facility, the Cardiac Center, and the modular units.

Luis Hospital Project Manager Yvonne Thomas, who led a tour of the facility on Friday, updates

FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor on the project’s progress.

While this is a temporary solution, the path to a permanent healthcare facility is being undertaken simultaneously as $10 million has been obligated by FEMA for the design and architectural engineering for the replacement of the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital.

JFL Leadership is finalizing contracts to complete the installation of the furniture and necessary medical equipment to complete the construction. The anticipated opening of the temporary modular hospital is set for the summer of 2020.

Inside the modular units being installed at Luis Hospital.