US Virgin Islands Redirected Money Meant for Hurricane Relief Efforts For Years
Sputnik/ Mihail KutusovUS03:37 08.09.2017(updated 03:54 08.09.2017) Get short URL
The US Virgin Islands has apparently been using funds intended to pay out insurance claims related to natural disasters to pay for other public services for many years.
Since 2007, roughly $200 million has been transferred out of the V.I. Insurance Guaranty Fund — including $45 million in fiscal year 2011, Reuters reported.
The program was meant to keep accruing funds to pay off any outstanding claims that insurance companies weren’t able or willing to pay off for island residents and property owners following natural disasters.
Though the three main islands of St. John, St. Croix, and St. Thomas relied heavily on the program after Hurricanes Hugo in 1989 and Marilyn in 1995 tore threw the region, according to a 2007 government news release cited by Reuters, the minimum balance of the funds were reduced from $50 million to $10 million in 2012.
When asked about the funneling away of the storm fund, the outlet reported government officials admitting that money was borrowed from “time to time,” however, “this has not been an issue.”
Though US President Donald Trump declared the island nation to be in a state of emergency — authorizing FEMA to coordinate and potentially pay for its post-storm recovery — Reuters went on to note that the US Virgin Islands government had just three days worth of funding to pay for its relief operations.
With Hurricane Irma causing “severe damage” to both the US and UK Virgin Islands, according to UK Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan, the damage estimates are just beginning to pile up as the island chain’s government will be adding even more debt onto the $6.5 billion it already owes to pensioners and creditors.
With the death toll reaching at least 13 across the Caribbean islands, four people have been killed by Hurricane Irma.