St. Croix Decimated By Hurricane Maria: ‘Bodies Are Stacking Up’

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix reduced its curfew in order to allow for recovery efforts to continue more efficiently. St. Croix Gov. Keith Mapp said residents will be allowed to take care of business from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., three hours longer than previously allowed.

St. Croix was hit by the Category 5 storm more than a week ago, lashing the island with winds of up to 155 mph. It was the second hurricane the island experienced in just 12 days: Hurricane Irma passed by St. Croix earlier in September.

“We are going to be changing the curfew hours because the reality of life is again setting in,” said Mapp, according to the Virgin Islands Daily News. “While I want to stress the importance of being safe and being careful on the roads, we’ve got natural deaths that are occurring in the territory and people are having difficulty in terms of arranging funerals, and bodies are pretty much stacking up.”

A man stands outside a destroyed home in this aerial photo from a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey surveying the aftermath from Hurricane Maria in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sep. 21, 2017. Photo: Reuters

An estimated 70 percent of structures on St. Croix were damaged by Maria. Recovery efforts were hindered by debris and downed power lines blocking roadways.

“The whole infrastructure is collapsed right now,” Florida resident Lisa Svarczkopf, who spoke to family members on St. Croix, told WUSF News. “You have downed trees and telephone poles. So getting anywhere takes forever. There’s the issue of water and food.”

Officials, however, quashed rumors that the region was experiencing fuel shortages. 

“There is enough fuel,” said Mapp.

Power remained out in much of the Virgin Islands, though officials said they aimed to have 90 percent of it restored by Christmas. Officials also said they hoped to have the one airport on St. Croix open by sometime next week, according to the Virgin Islands Consortium.

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