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Recovery Work Ongoing At National Parks In The Caribbean

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Cut and stacked wood line the trail to Hawksnest Beach at Virgin Islands National Park/NPS

Chainsaws have been getting quite the workout in the Caribbean, where National Park Service crews have been cutting and stacking wood as they've cleared roads and trails at Virgin Islands National Park and at other National Park System units there.

Though it's been more than a month since Hurricanes Irma and Maria delivered a one-two punch to the Caribbean parks, the road to recovery is slow. Along with clearing downed trees, crews are busy assessing road damage, sunken vessels, water-damaged facilities, and an electrical grid that needs to be rebuilt.

“We are working hard to open the beautiful parks of the Caribbean, and provide for a safe and enjoyable visitor experience," said Randy Lavasseur, superintendent of the Caribbean parks. "The stabilization and recovery efforts are ongoing and we are beginning to open areas of the parks as conditions allow.”

Each of the six National Park Service units in the Caribbean has a branch unit working under the direction of the Western Incident Management Team. The branch units include a variety of supporting positions and expertise. Other Park Service specialists are assisting the Caribbean parks as well. A facility assessment team is assessing all park structures and infrastructure, and a Caribbean Hurricane Emergency Rehabilitation Team was to arrive this weekend.

Several areas of the San Juan National Historic Site are being stabilized and the park is positioned to open once sustainable power is achieved.

The Virgin Islands National Park, Coral Reef National Monument, and the Salt River Bay National Historic Park and Ecological Preserve sustained significant damage and in some areas, total loss. These areas are considered unstable and stabilization work is being conducted.

Recovery efforts at Christiansted National Historic Site and Buck Island Reef National Monument are continuing and anticipated to be completed soon. The parks do not have sustainable power, but are planned to partially open next week.

The visitor center at Salt River Bay National Historic Park has been significantly damaged, but stable, with recovery efforts underway. Public access to the visitor center is anticipated to be available in a few weeks.

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