Federal Emergency Management Agency officials Jacqueline Heyliger and Marisa Allen briefed USVI senators on federal spending in the territory at an unpublicized, informal meeting at the St. Croix Training Annex in the Nissan Building in Christiansted Tuesday.
Senators held a similar non-public meeting with Economic Development Authority officials Monday. This sort of information-gathering has historically been provided in televised public V.I. Legislature committee hearings. These non-public meetings are a departure from past practice.
The information released by the Legislature about the meeting was cursory and fragmented, with a mix of numbers without context or background information and statements of long-public information, such as the fact that federal funds are being spent to put some Water and Power Authority lines underground and WAPA is putting up hurricane-resistant poles.
According to the Legislature, senators were told that as of Feb. 5 the federal government had made more than $2 billion in funding available. FEMA Public Assistance comes to $1.7 billion.
FEMA officials reportedly said that as of Feb. 5, $1.2 billion is obligated,with 461 requests for Public Assistance and 552 projects in the works.
U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loans come to $535.5 million among 7,641 separate loans. National Flood Insurance Program payments come to $17.1 million and Hazard Mitigation Grants total $22.7 million.
Around 7,642 small business loans totaling $535.5 million have been approved; $17.1 million in National Flood Insurance Program payments made and $22.7 million in Hazard Mitigation Grants obligated.
According to the Legislature, Senators in attendance at FEMA’s Tuesday’s briefing were: Senate President Kenneth Gittens, Sens. Alicia Barnes, Javan James, Kurt Vialet, and Novelle Francis. Sen. Allison Degazon is also in one of the photos provided by the Legislature.