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News / Virgin Islands / May 19, 2018

As the start of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season looms, the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority said on Saturday that it’s fine tuning its disaster preparedness plan in the event the territory is impacted by a storm system this year.

“We assembled our management team this week to continue our review of where we are, what changes have been made to the plan since last year’s storms, and what measures can be taken to protect the authority’s assets in this hurricane season,” said WAPA Executive Director Lawrence Kupfer. He noted that several such meetings have been held with the Authority’s staff since the major portion of electrical restoration was completed at the end of last year.

According to the release, Kupfer explained that WAPA has completed its restoration of service and is now continuing permanent work on the electric grid. In addition, improvements are being made at both power plants, and on the distribution systems, to ensure that lessons learned about how best to fare any storm system, and how quickly the Authority can recover, are implemented. “While WAPA has received funding for a number of mitigation projects, we are mindful that not many will be fully implemented by this year’s hurricane season,” he said.

WAPA said the composite pole installation project is well on its way on St. John, getting started on St. Croix and contractors will be mobilized shortly on St. Thomas. New generators planned for both power plants are making their way to the territory, and WAPA is fast-tracking acquisition, permitting and installation of the stand-alone generators for St. John. “ By the peak of the hurricane season, our goal is to have our plants and distribution systems in a better place with some levels of resiliency built in,” he added.

“Additionally, this hurricane season, the Authority has an agreement in place with the American Public Power Association (APPA) so that crews from municipal utilities can begin mobilizing men, women, and equipment should a storm be predicted to impact the Virgin Islands. In the event of an impact, they would be immediately dispatched to the territory,” Kupfer said.

Internally, the authority is proceeding with issuing requests for proposals for private companies interested in working with WAPA to restore service in a post-storm scenario, and ensuring vendors are in place to provide materials and supplies, according to the release. “Our team is also working on identifying a hardened storage location to safeguard the many transformers, rolls of cable and primary wire, poles, hardware and other equipment that are presently on-island, and would be needed in the aftermath of a storm,” Kupfer said.

Kupfer said the authority has also sought the assistance of Witt O’Brien, LLP to fine tune WAPA’s hurricane preparedness plan. “For the next two weeks, our directors will be sitting with consultants from Witt O’Brien to hammer out their division specific hurricane response plans and fine tune the overall framework for the Authority’s response to any disaster which may threaten or impact the territory,” said Kupfer.

Kupfer said WAPA will continue to update the public on its hurricane preparedness planning.

“This is also an ideal time for me to remind our residents to sign up today for WAPA Alerts, the Authority’s new mass messaging system,” he said. Through this system, WAPA issues notifications to the public of service interruptions, road closures caused by ongoing projects and other pertinent information.

“In the hurricane season, WAPA Alerts will be a primary messaging vehicle for updates about the utility’s storm preparations, as well any post-storm restoration that may be required,” Kupfer said.

To sign up for WAPA Alerts, visit the Authority’s web site,

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