New Panel in place to help with hurricane relief

An expert advisory committee has been set up to handle both the temporary as well as the more permanent needs of the residents in the U. S. Virgin Islands following the continuing devastation from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Governor Kenneth E. Mapp said the panel, known as the V. I. Hurricane and Resiliency Advisory Group, will be comprised of local officials, leaders, community members and business and environmental specialists.

Mapp commented in a statement that by bringing together experts from many diverse fields he looks forward to rebuilding the Virgin Islands quickly and intelligently.

He also expressed the positive reception for the support and collaboration he has already received.

The group, which will function under the Office of the Governor, will evaluate the destruction from the hurricanes and summarize the risks the Virgin Islands will deal with now and for the next 30 years. In addition, the group will settle on how the more than $1.4 million accumulated through recovery efforts will be utilized.

According to Governor Mapp, Clifford Graham, president and chief executive officer of the West Indian Company (WICO) port facilities and Havensight Mall, will function as chairman of the group.

Graham previously worked for two terms as a senator in the U. S. Virgin Islands legislature.

Also among the participants in the 18-member panel are Senator Novelle E. Frances; U. S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams; Commissioner for the USVI Department of Finance, Valdamier Collens; Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Island Capital Group and CEO of Resource America Andrew Farkas and Chief of Staff to Governor Mapp, Eugene Farrell.

The VI Hurricane and Resiliency Advisory Group will come together to create guidelines and procedures for the island’s infrastructure and climate change. The group will also focus on devising and executing new strategies for present and future natural disasters.

What’s more, the group will focus on a plan for the tourism industry and making the housing and economic areas more resilient.