Virginia Continues To Send Assistance to Hurricane-Ravaged Islands

RICHMOND—While the hurricanes that ravaged the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida last summer may seem like history to some, efforts to assist with the long-term recovery from the hurricanes’ devastation continue in earnest. Virginia will send two Environmental Health strike teams to the U.S. Virgin Islands this weekend to aid in recovery efforts from hurricanes Irma and Maria. The teams, deployed through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), include specialists from the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Environmental Health Services, Office of Drinking Water and Alexandria, Chesapeake, Henrico and Richmond City health districts and Fairfax County Health Department.

The deployment is in response to an EMAC request from the Virgin Islands for strike teams to assist with identifying, monitoring, assessing and mitigating environmental health hazards. The teams comprise up to seven environmental health specialists, including one who is also a registered nurse. Members of the teams are expected to depart for St. Thomas and St. John and St. Croix Feb. 11 and return on Feb. 27.

Working with local officials, members of the teams will conduct inspections of food service establishments and other regulated facilities, and provide education on environmental health and sanitation issues on the islands.

“Virginia remains vigilant in our efforts to aid our fellow Americans, and we are in close contact with emergency managers in the impacted areas to offer our support as this part of the country continues long-term recovery projects,” said VDEM State Coordinator Dr. Jeff Stern. “These teams leaving this week will join a long list of Virginia emergency managers, police, health, and other volunteers who have deployed to these areas on various missions to aid their fellow Americans. Virginia is proud of these individuals and remains committed to doing everything in our power to assist those still struggling to recover from the devastation wrought on our country in 2017.”

“I am proud that personnel from the Virginia Department of Health are always willing to answer the call for volunteers when their skills are needed, said State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa J. Levine. “Having well-trained public health professionals and environmental health specialists on the ground to help these island communities stay healthy and get back on their feet is essential. Also essential is answering such calls to help others through this mutual aid compact, for doing so assures that others would help Virginia in a similar time of need.”

“We are excited and honored to be able to provide assistance to areas affected by those devastating storms,” said Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, Fairfax Health Director. “I want to thank the members of our team for their compassionate service. I know they will provide to the residents and visitors of the U.S. Virgin Islands the same professionalism and high quality service which the citizens of the Fairfax have come to expect. We wish them a safe and successful journey.”

Team Composition

St. Thomas/St. John District Team (7 members)

John Yetman (Fairfax County Environmental Health Supervisor)
Lois Maisel (Fairfax County Environmental Health Specialist II)
Ebonie Miller (Fairfax County Environmental Health Specialist)
David Geeson (Office of Environmental Health Services Environmental Health Manager)
Monae Holifield (Chesapeake Health District Environmental Health Specialist Sr.)
Kirsten Dobson (Richmond City Health District Environmental Health Specialist Sr.)
Todd Grubbs (Office of Environmental Health Services Environmental Health Coordinator)


St. Croix District Team (6 members)

Deborah Hoy (Office of Drinking Water Environmental Health Specialist Consultant)
Jerene Beyer (Henrico Health District Environmental Health Specialist Sr.)
Isaac Robertson (Fairfax County Environmental Health Specialist II)
Ron Campbell (Fairfax County Environmental Health Specialist III)
Kendra Washington (Alexandria Health District Environmental Health Specialist Sr.)
Tiffany Johnson-Wiggins (Alexandria Health District Environmental Health Specialist)