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Virgin Islands shrinking population

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stcmike
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November 2, 2021 2:15 pm  

I must admit I was taken  back by the large percentage of citizens that have left the VI. A reduction of 18% of the citizenry of the islands is very alarming. When a population leaves because they see better employment opportunities, better healthcare, safer environment, affordability and better educational opportunities its time for local officials to wake up and start addressing the crisis that is right before our eyes. The loss of population means less federal funding on programs based on population criteria, loss of potential tax revenue and causes just a allot of despair. Who is left here? Just people who don't have the opportunity to relocate? What do we need to do to stem the population outflow?


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CruzanIron
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November 2, 2021 2:40 pm  
Posted by: @stcmike

I must admit I was taken  back by the large percentage of citizens that have left the VI. A reduction of 18% of the citizenry of the islands is very alarming. When a population leaves because they see better employment opportunities, better healthcare, safer environment, affordability and better educational opportunities its time for local officials to wake up and start addressing the crisis that is right before our eyes. The loss of population means less federal funding on programs based on population criteria, loss of potential tax revenue and causes just a allot of despair. Who is left here? Just people who don't have the opportunity to relocate? What do we need to do to stem the population outflow?

Hovensa closed. 1,000 employees left and took their families with them. Businesses and schools closed.  Quite a few of them went to the  mainland also. This does not account for all of the loss but it certainly contributed to it. 

 


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daveb722
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November 2, 2021 4:24 pm  

Or was it just under counted?  It happened right during the freak out of covid.  They stopped by my house, taped a piece of paper to a post by the road (stating they would be back). Why they didn't just knock on the door then and do it, I have no idea. They came back a few weeks later, and if the dogs didn't bark, I wouldn't have known they were even here as they didn't come to the door and were waiting in their cars, that were not marked with anything identifying who they were with.  I'm sure this happened to 10-15% of the population, who sat home and never answered their door and were never counted.  What gets me, why they weren't able to do it online as you can do in the states?  There should be no reason that this couldn't have been set up.  But alas we are in the USVI so maybe next census?


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vicanuck
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November 4, 2021 8:11 am  

That's so interesting...my post on this topic from yesterday has been deleted.

I guess Islander didn't like what I had to say about WAPA, etc.

Censoring the truth doesn't make it any less true.


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jaldeborgh
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November 4, 2021 6:09 pm  

The hurricanes of 2017 must be a factor and to some degree the refinery but crime, availability of good healthcare, lack of opportunity for young people along with the cost of living are the systemic root cause.  Most or all of these systemic problems are addressable to some degree but our leadership lacks the resolve to tackle them and lack of money isn’t the issue, it’s an excuse.

There are many comments in the various media outlets saying the numbers are wrong, that the count was inaccurate.  I for one don’t accept this, the entire nation was covered by the census and the total US population didn’t drop by 18%.


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Ca. Dreamers
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November 5, 2021 9:00 am  

@vicanuck They deleted my post also. Would like to know why?


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vicanuck
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November 5, 2021 9:35 am  
Posted by: @ca-dreamers

@vicanuck They deleted my post also. Would like to know why?

I guess Islander doesn't want us presenting the reality of the VI to prospective new residents.

Hey Islander...what say you?


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Knowlesstak
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November 5, 2021 5:45 pm  

Man wish I would have read it before the censorship took place. 


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stjohnjulie
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November 6, 2021 4:00 am  

My post is missing as well.  


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STTsailor
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November 9, 2021 3:20 pm  

Thats why i stooped posting. This website has been dying slow death for a number of years. Blame it of Facebook. 


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speee1dy
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November 11, 2021 9:46 am  

@daveb722 this is true-they came and spoke with us briefly but never talked to the downstairs neighbors. people dont realize or care that the population count affects the federal budget we are allocated 


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daveb722
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November 11, 2021 3:30 pm  

@STTsailor I agree but FB sucks for information unless you need something/person on island, there's not a lot of good insight to moving here and what that entails.  Either they need to pay for some FB advertising to get more people on here.


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stcmike
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December 28, 2021 10:29 am  

If the population has shrunk by 18% shouldn't we be able to reduce the number of executive and legislative positions by 18%


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Scubadoo
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December 28, 2021 10:57 pm  
Posted by: @stcmike

If the population has shrunk by 18% shouldn't we be able to reduce the number of executive and legislative positions by 18%

Sure, that's why they want to do a recount.


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stcmike
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December 29, 2021 1:03 pm  

@Scubadoo   Good point. I didn't think of that.

 


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NugBlazer
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February 4, 2022 5:42 pm  
Posted by: @stcmike

I must admit I was taken  back by the large percentage of citizens that have left the VI. A reduction of 18% of the citizenry of the islands is very alarming. When a population leaves because they see better employment opportunities, better healthcare, safer environment, affordability and better educational opportunities its time for local officials to wake up and start addressing the crisis that is right before our eyes. The loss of population means less federal funding on programs based on population criteria, loss of potential tax revenue and causes just a allot of despair. Who is left here? Just people who don't have the opportunity to relocate? What do we need to do to stem the population outflow?

Actually, it was 19% in STX.  I, for one, was not surprised at all.  I've been saying for a decade now that the island has been losing people left and right.  The census just confirmed my suspicions.  How could I tell?  Lots of things.  Here are some examples:

1.  During season, on a Fri or Sat night it used to be nearly impossible to find a parking spot before 11PM in Christiansted.  Town was ROCKING.  Nowadays, parking spots are plentiful and the entire boardwalk is usually a ghosttown by 10PM, with the possible exception of Shupe's.  This was BEFORE Covid restrictions, so those don't even count.

2. The number of bars/restaurants open is far less.

3.  Of the ones that still are open, many of the landmark spots (Tutu Bene, Bacchus, etc) are long gone.

4.  There are far less people out and about on any given night.  Used to be you could go out and meet new people easily, now it's much harder.

WHY has this happened:  HOVENSA.  That is, by far, the biggest reason.  Nothing comes even close, not even the hurricanes, because hurrican damage can be rebuilt, but Hovensa closing is FOREVER.  Hovensa employed 1,000+ people with good, well-paying jobs with benefits, and kept entire families here for decades.  When Hovensa closed, many of those people left nearly overnight.  It's akin to stories in the US where some small midwestern town has a giant Ford factory that employs half the town, and the factory folds, taking the town down with it.

There was HUGE collateral damage from the Hovensa closure.  Many businesses that catered to the Hovensa crowd (like Gertrude's Restaurant, or Good Hope Elementary School for example) lost the majority of their business and also had to close.  This created a ripple effect that fanned out across the island.

And, let's not forget how much money Hovensa poured into the community in the form of sponsorships, grants, etc.  Take the St. Croix International Regatta for example.  It had been going for 20 years straight, but guess what happened the year Hovensa folded?  Yep:  the Regatta folded as well.  Why?  Because Hovensa was always the Platinum-level (there were actual sponsor levels: Gold, Silver, etc) sponsor and donated $100,000 annually to the regatta.  Yes, there were lots of other sponsors, but without the biggest sponsor, the event couldn't continue.  And this was an even that had been going for TWENTY years!

Of course, the two back-to-back Cat 5 hurricanes from 4 years ago certainly didn't help, either.  They definitely had an effect, just not like Hovensa closing did.

Add all this up and what do you get?  An island that is as slow and dead as I've ever seen it in 20+ years.  The roads are a joke.  Let's fact it: the roads have never been world-class here, but their current condition is the worst I've EVER seen.  Mahogany Road west of Domino Club is an absolute embarrassment.  It's like driving on the moon.  And, sections of the Melvin Evans Highway are so poor it's a miracle more cars don't blow their tires at 65MPH and roll over.  In addition, 80+% of the lights on the highway are dark, making the FREEWAY (you know, kind of an important road) even more dangerous.

Before I go, I'll say that two things I DON'T think have contributed to the population loss are crime and healthcare.  Why?  Because they've always been bad, so it's nothing new.


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stjohnjulie
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February 5, 2022 4:08 am  

On St John the lack of long term housing is contributing to population loss.  A lot of the long term housing was destroyed or severely damaged in the hurricanes and a lot of those who invested in repairing went short term to try and recoup their investments faster.  The demand for short term is so high that many people just decided they were going to try and cash in on that.  I literally don’t know anywhere that isn’t hiring. 


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NugBlazer
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February 5, 2022 6:26 pm  
Posted by: @stjohnjulie

On St John the lack of long term housing is contributing to population loss.  A lot of the long term housing was destroyed or severely damaged in the hurricanes and a lot of those who invested in repairing went short term to try and recoup their investments faster.  The demand for short term is so high that many people just decided they were going to try and cash in on that.  I literally don’t know anywhere that isn’t hiring. 

Yeah, housing has ALWAYS been a problem on STJ because it's so tiny (11 square miles, 3/4 of which are national park.  Contrast that to STT, which is 37 sm and STX which is 84 sm).  It's also -- and has always been -- very expensive.  The hurricanes certainly didn't help, but the problem was always there.  It's one of the reasons why I never recommend STJ to newcomers unless they're rich.


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stjohnjulie
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February 6, 2022 4:44 am  

The situation is much worse on STJ now than it ever has been in my 23 year here for long term housing and it is only getting worse as time goes on. The argument for returning Caneel back to a resort to bring jobs is laughable unless they build employee housing.  


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Knowlesstak
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February 6, 2022 9:22 am  

In my younger years I spent a summer working for Princess Cruise lines in Denali National Park Alaska. It was a really nice lodge that people came to by train in between Anchorage and Fairbanks. Not much was there except the lodge and other lodges by companies. Part of the job package was employee housing. It wasn’t anything special, but it was fantastic for us. It was a warm place to stay to sleep. When we didn’t work we either hit the bar, climbed a mountain, or camped out in the wilderness. At that age we would have slept in tents. 

I can see STJ being the same way. Employee lodging could be simple. Those who worked there are there for the adventure of the island life and wouldn’t care much about where they slept. 


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stjohnjulie
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February 6, 2022 1:14 pm  

Too funny!  I worked in Denali (The Denali River Cabins) back in the 90’s. All of those places had employee housing.  We had pretty nice digs with all of us having (small) private rooms, shared bath house, and cafeteria.  I met someone there that had a brother on STJ. Which is how I ended up here in the first place.  


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Knowlesstak
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February 6, 2022 3:30 pm  

Too funny indeed. Small world!  I was there around 1994. We had the shared bath house as well. Until I moved up lol to a place with my own bathroom. I actually met my wife up there. We were the from Texas and moved about 2 hours from each other. I loved it there. Was such an amazing place. Seeing grizzlies, wolves, eating endless wild raspberries blueberries when hiking, camping in the middle of nowhere hoping not to be eaten when you slept, and plenty of rum. Lol. 


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Knowlesstak
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February 6, 2022 3:47 pm  

1996 was the summer I was there. I just looked up there. We were about 11 miles away from each other. 

The Crows Nest and Lynx Creek Pizza are still actually there. Looks as if they added a few new places in the past 26 years. 


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vicanuck
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February 7, 2022 8:52 am  

@NugBlazer 

You're definitely right in most aspects of your post, but, the annual Regatta at the yacht club is still going strong despite the loss of Hovensa as a sponsor.

Another reason some of my friends are leaving (an myself sooner or later) is dysfunctional government services, high food costs, outrageous electricity costs/poor power quality, poor infrastructure (cell service, internet) and of course near zero retail shopping.

The VI is a fun place to live for a few years, but, people quickly get tired of the daily struggle and most just can't make enough money here to survive.


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NugBlazer
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February 7, 2022 3:13 pm  
Posted by: @vicanuck

@NugBlazer 

You're definitely right in most aspects of your post, but, the annual Regatta at the yacht club is still going strong despite the loss of Hovensa as a sponsor.

Another reason some of my friends are leaving (an myself sooner or later) is dysfunctional government services, high food costs, outrageous electricity costs/poor power quality, poor infrastructure (cell service, internet) and of course near zero retail shopping.

The VI is a fun place to live for a few years, but, people quickly get tired of the daily struggle and most just can't make enough money here to survive.

Ah, well, I assure you the Regatta was cancelled for a year or two after Hovensa closed.  Didn't realize they started it back up.  Thanks for letting me know, though.

The other reasons you listed are all valid, just not new.  High food and electricity costs, poor infrastructure... those have always been here and probably always will.

 

Your last sentence is spot-on.


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