It seems like it’s been forever since we had good news to report in the Caribbean, but thankfully today is the day! The U.S. Virgin Islands are back open and operating after Tropical Storm Laura brought high winds, heavy rains and a dangerous storm surge over the weekend. Laura is continuing its trajectory towards the Gulf of Mexico where it’s expected to make landfall in Louisiana sometime early Thursday morning.
While the National Weather Service’s warning for USVI has been lifted, Cuba is still waiting for their turn with the storm in the next day or two. Haiti and the Dominican Republic caught the brunt of the storm and a dozen people lost their lives due to torrential rain, flooding and heavy winds. Anyone in the path of the storm is urged to take precautions until it has passed.
Luckily, Not Much Damage
The USVI Department of Tourism has reported little to no damage to the local infrastructure and the airports on both St. Thomas and St. Croix are operating as normal once again. Some airlines are experiencing delays, however. If you’re traveling to the islands this week, double check to make sure you’re still on time.
“We are grateful that the Territory was minimally impacted by Tropical Storm Laura, and we want to thank our partners for ensuring our safety during the storm’s passage,” said Joseph Boschulte, Commissioner of Tourism, who also reported that major roads have been cleared, seaports have reopened and maritime operations have resumed.
The Commissioner also sent his prayers to the neighboring islands of Haiti and the Dominican Republic who saw much worse conditions and loss of life.
USVI COVID-19 Response
The US Virgin Islands are currently at level Orange in their COVID-19 response meaning residents are encouraged to stay at home and hotels, villas, Airbnb accommodations, guest houses, temporary vacation housing and charter vessels and similar businesses have been ordered not to accept or book any new reservations for 30 days. All restaurants on the islands can offer only takeout, delivery or drive-thru service. All bars, nightclubs and cabarets are to remain closed as long as the islands remain in a State of Emergency.
The island had plans to be fully open by the end of summer, but a spike in cases forced the local government to put the clamps down on tourism once again. Porthole’s own Judi Cuervo spent a few days on St. Thomas in July following the brief reopening of the islands.