JACKSON, Miss. – Jim Craig, Director of Health Protection for the (MSDH), recently returned from six weeks in the U.S. Virgin Islands helping with hospital recovery efforts following hurricanes Irma and Maria last fall.
Craig was requested by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health (USVI DOH) to assist with a 44-day recovery assignment as part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), the nation’s state-to-state mutual aid agreement. This compact establishes a national framework that allows resources to be sent across state lines following disasters. All 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are EMAC members.
Craig was asked to help temporary medical facilities to support the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health and U.S. Virgin Islands Healthcare Facilities. Hurricanes Irma and Maria, both category 5 storms that struck in September 2017, caused severe and widespread damage to the islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John. Hospitals on St. Croix and St. Thomas were damaged and the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center on St. John was left unusable.
Just as other states contributed to Mississippi’s recovery following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Craig’s deployment gave him a firsthand view of what state-to-state disaster support could accomplish.