On Wednesday, October 13, assessment teams comprised of the representatives of the VI Territorial Emergency Management Agency, VI Department of Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, began visiting homes that sustained flood damage as a result of Tropical Storm Otto, which pounded the territory with heavy rains on October 5 through 8.
The assessments continued through Thursday and VITEMA is encouraging residents who incurred damages to their home or rental property to schedule a site visit, if they have not yet done so.
To schedule a visit, call Suzette Rojas of the Department of Human Services at 718-2980 and provide an address, phone number and point of contact.
VITEMA, with assistance from FEMA, is coordinating efforts to seek a Presidential declaration for Individual Assistance as result of damages caused by Tropical Storm Otto. A disaster declaration would make federal disaster assistance programs available to the Virgin Islands to supplement the recovery from the effects of Tropical Storm Otto.
A FEMA team has been in the territory since October 4 — just before Tropical Storm Otto’s torrential downpours — to support the local response and recovery effort.
“The site visits are just the beginning of the process,” said Noel Smith, VITEMA deputy director of operations. “We are gathering as much information as we can to determine whether the Territory qualifies for Individual Assistance. If the damage to homes and rental properties is significant enough, will we move to next step which is making the actual request for a Presidential declaration for Individual Assistance.”
VITEMA is also coordinating the efforts to seek Public Assistance which would assist government agencies and certain non-profit organizations in their recovery.
To address businesses that may have been impacted by Otto, VITEMA has established a dedicated phone line to gather information from business owners. Business owners that sustained damage are asked to call VITEMA at 715-6824.
If a Tropical Storm Otto is declared a major disaster that information will forwarded to the U.S. Small Business Administration which may offer low-interest disaster loans.