From the time I heard the FEMA rep on the ground in the VI say that Disaster SNAP would begin on October 16th and the Governor say that food distribution would end before that, I raised concerns with several Senators. When they pressured Commissioner Blyden on the SNAP issue, I sent texts to some saying that they “cannot beat up on the Commissioner without addressing the end of distribution.”
So now to read that the governor has assumed a role that far exceeds the authority of his office and is totally inappropriate – to decide that individuals cannot get food stamps before they have electricity because they would buy frozen foods – compels me to speak out publicly! That is not for him to decide or dictate. It speaks to condescension and to casting aspersions on the intelligence of “the wonderful people of the Virgin Islands”at least, and to his – already attributed to by some – despotic tendencies at worst.
If no SNAP then food distribution should continue. Witness the lines of people of all ages lined up – rain or hot sunshine – for food and other supplies as late as Saturday. Many are not working and cannot buy in our supermarkets as they are continuously admonished to do.
After Harvey, SNAP was initiated in less than a month. After Irma it began in 1 month in Florida – also too long! Someone needs to answer to why it is taking 2 months in the Virgin Islands! Reports say that the Governor delayed it. I am told that FEMA just approved DHS to administer it. I am not writing to lay blame, (because I also blame myself for not speaking out before) but to say that the people of the Virgin Islands are not being well served in this instance and everyone involved need to fix it, NOW!
Moving from response to recovery requires a transition. You don’t drop the first and wait to start the latter. We should continue “responding” while gearing up and planning for recovery!
Submitted on Wednesday by: Donna M. Christensen (pictured above), former delegate to Congress and Gubernatorial candidate in the 2014 general election. Ms. Christensen is also the Democratic Party’s state chair.