U.S. Virgin Islands need help rebuilding hospitals ‘from the ground up’

JUDY WOODRUFF: Puerto Rico is not alone in coping with the aftermath of two hurricanes. The U.S. Virgin Islands were also left in ruin.

I spoke a short time ago with Governor Kenneth Mapp, and began by asking about where things stand there.

GOV. KENNETH MAPP, U.S. Virgin Islands: We're moving out of rescue and into recovery.

We have received tremendous provisions and support from the federal partners. We're now talking about and beginning the process of covering and sheltering folks in homes that lost roofs. We have cleared a good bit of debris out of the road system and we're working on getting the power distribution system up.

That's going to be a long haul. We're planning on bringing 400 line men from the U.S. mainland to help us in that regard, sign those contracts. We are talking, looking at how we're going to begin to open schools. Our children have not been into school for the school year for many imaginable parts. And so we're planning on how we're going to merge schools and get the children back in school in October.

So, we are moving out of rescue and into recovery, getting the businesses open, getting the lights on, and doing what we do after we have these damaging hurricanes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what would you say your greatest needs are right now?

GOV. KENNETH MAPP: Infrastructure development, help in terms of building the power systems up, help in getting the road systems back up and functioning.

We really have to work with the Congress on getting the hospitals rebuilt, getting schools rebuilt. So, you know, I'm making those — I'm having those discussions with our federal partners, the White House and our friends in Congress.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So much of the focus, it seems, in the last days have been on Puerto Rico, larger population on that U.S. territory. Has that affected what you in the Virgin Islands have been able to get done?

GOV. KENNETH MAPP: Not — I would say no.

We feel for our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico. They have just been really devastated. And we had — after Irma, we had a contingent of their National Guard troops on the island helping us here. And our general escorted them back home and met with the — over there.

And whatever we can do to help them, they're just in — it's just — they just really need help. And any quickness in terms of getting the supplies into their communities and to their people is what is really going to make the big difference.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, what about the state of health care, your hospitals, your clinics in the Virgin Islands?

GOV. KENNETH MAPP: Hospitals are blown out.

For all intents and purposes, we're just using covered parts of the emergency room. Mobile hospitals are being constructed on the front lawns of the main hospitals. And we have evacuated all of the folks that were admitted to the hospitals.

People who come and the doctors require — say that they require admittance, we simply evac them out. We have evaced out our patients requiring dialysis services. And those hospitals are going to have to be rebuilt from the ground up.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Governor Kenneth Mapp of the Virgin Islands, I know so many Americans have been thinking about you and everyone there affected by these terrible storms.

Thank you very much for talking with us.

GOV. KENNETH MAPP: Thank you, Judy, so much for spreading the word out for the American citizens, all of us living in these territories.

Thank you so much.

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