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construction, construction of new and remodeling of old public school buildings, repairs to other Government buildings, and drainage and filling of swamps and other projects for malaria and filariasis control and sanitation.
In addition, the individual economic problems of the two principal islands were given special attention. In St. Croix, the major emphasis was placed upon the rehabilitation of the sugar and rum industry on a P. W. A. allotment on which the Virgin Islands Co. was organized. In St. Thomas, where the hope for economic recovery lies largely in development of tourist trade, the program included construction of automobile roads, of a tourist hotel, and of tourist beach houses. Also, aid was furnished the new homesteading project and the native handicraft industries, and projects were set up for producing mattresses and other items for relief distribution.
The program was financed by monthly grants of $11,000 for the entire Virgin Islands, exclusive of grants to the Virgin Islands Co. and special grants for working capital for cooperatives. The monthly grants proved wholly inadequate to provide work relief for all persons in need. In St. Thomas, where the need was greatest, only 332 persons out of a total of 2,034 eligible employables, or 16 percent of the total, were given work in the week with greatest employment under the program during the year. As a result of the inadequacy of grants, it was necessary to rotate the workers, laying them off for several weeks after one week's work. Even under this plan, in no month was it possible to give work assignments to as many as 50 percent of the employables registered. As a result of Virgin Islands Co. operations during the planting and reaping season, the relief needs of St. Croix could be more adequately taken care of during those periods, but otherwise the same need was felt there as in the other two islands.
A total of 353,563 pounds of foodstuffs and 38,410 cans of milk were distributed during the year to the most needy cases on the relief rolls. The total receiving food relief in St. Thomas and St. John was reduced from 4,682 persons in the preceding year to 2,965 in June 1935, with an even greater decrease in St. Croix.
Cash relief was resorted to for only a small percentage of the relief work, with a total distributed of $1,232.87 in St. Thomas and St. John and $733.37 in St. Croix.
EMERGENCY CONSERVATION WORK
The Emergency Conservation Work was inaugurated in the Virgin Islands on January 29, 1935. Two camps were established, with 100 young men enrolled in St. Croix and 60 men in St. Thomas. Enrollment in the St. Thomas camp has since increased to 100. Substantial and well-equipped camp buildings have been constructed, the necessity to provide against hurricanes making it desirable to provide sturdy housing units. The enrollees (limited to the ages between 18 and 25 years) are benefiting by improved food and living conditions and by trained supervision and direction of the healthy outdoor work.
The projects include reforestation, soil-erosion control, roadside planting, work on parks, fire trails, etc. In St. Thomas some of the more interesting items accomplished are 4 miles of fire trails around an important watershed area for protection of a reforestation project there, fencing of this area, establishment of a forestry nursery with a quarter million tree seedlings, and construction of a small reservoir for the camp water system. In St. Croix, swamp drainage ditches were completed in the vicinity of the camp, 2 miles of fire trails were built around the Whim homesteading estate, and 5 acres of the Fredericksted Park were partially reclaimed.
The public-works department in both municipalities continued to carry a great load in directing construction work under the National Recovery Program in the Virgin Islands, in addition to their normal activities. The overload was estimated at 9 or 10 times the normal volume of work.
Outstanding items in this program accomplished by the publicworks departments were the construction of the Bluebeard Castle Hotel at St. Thomas (with 26 rooms and 16 baths, garage, servants quarters, laundry building, and an extensive water-storage system); construction of a tourist beach house (with 22 rooms, a pavilion, showers, and toilets) at Lindbergh Bay, St. Thomas, in addition to. the public-beach house erected there earlier; construction of E. C. W. camps in both St. Thomas and St. Croix; construction of 7 new school buildings (total capacity, 600 pupils) besides major repairs and renewals to the other schoolhouses in the 3 islands; hard surfacing of 3 principal streets in the towns of St. Croix and of 4 city streets and those surrounding the ball field in St. Thomas; repair of dirt roads in the country districts; and drainage of swamps. Much of this work was begun in the preceding fiscal year and completed during the year under report.
The important work of filling the large swamps at Lindbergh Bay and Long Bay, St. Thomas, was undertaken by the United States Army Engineering Service, using the Army dredge Houston. The former was completed before June 30, but the latter was still under way at the close of the fiscal year.
Regular maintenance work of the departments includes upkeeping of all Government buildings, both Federal and municipal owned; repair of streets and roads; maintenance of public reservoirs and wells and of public sewer system and surface drains; street cleaning and garbage collection; maintenance of public parks and cemeteries; public surveys and land records; supervision of street lighting performed under contract by private companies; and operation of the municipal telephone systems in St. Thomas and St. Croix.
In St. Thomas, because of prolonged droughts, it was necessary to issue approximately 6,000,000 gallons of water from the Government reservoirs constructed a decade or more ago to provide a reserve supply of water for such emergencies. The sewer system operated by the public works department is flushed by sea water from a small reservoir on a hill behind the town which is filled by a pumping unit on the seashore. Heavy expansion of the system served by this reservoir necessitates replacement of the water and sewer lines by larger ones. For this, funds are much needed. This salt-water system has proven valuable besides for fire protection, with hydrants located all over the city.
During the year two new, modern fire engines were secured for the two towns of St. Croix similar to the one secured the year before for St. Thomas. There were no serious fires during the year in any of the islands. Only two houses, both small, were lost by fire. In St. Thomas the fire department is operated by the public works department. In St. Croix it is a separate unit.
The following statistics concerning the death and infant mortality rates indicate an upward trend in health in the Virgin Islands:
The death rate for the calendar year 1934 shows the lowest annual figure on record for the Virgin Islands, 19 per thousand of population. This is a little more than half the annual average of 35.4 per thousand for the 7 years (1911-17) immediately preceding the transfer, and 17-percent decrease from the annual average of 23.1 per thousand during the period 1918-30. In 1933 the rate was 21.9 per thousand.
The infant mortality rate of 97.4 per thousand children born alive during the calendar year 1934 is the lowest rate in the Virgin Islands on record, and compares with an annual average of 320 per thousand for the 7 years (1911-17) immediately preceding the transfer to United States sovereignty, and with an annual average of 183 per thousand during the period 1918-30.
The decrease in the infant mortality rate has been accompanied by an increase in the birth rate, which in 1934 was 29.8 per thousand of population as compared with 25.2 per thousand during 1918-30 and 26.3 per thousand in 1933.
Malaria was reported last year to be the outstanding health problem in the Virgin Islands. This year it was under complete control, with a total of only 37 cases in all the Virgin Islands during the entire fiscal year, as compared with a peak of 894 cases In St. Croix during fiscal year 1931-32 and 521 cases in St. Thomas and St. John during fiscal year 1932-33. This fiscal year there were 8 cases in St. Thomas, 29 in St. Croix, and none in St. John.
The campaign against the malaria carrier, the anopheles mosquito, was carried on with vigor during the year. The most important features in this campaign are the filling of the Lindbergh Bay and Long Bay Swamps in St. Thomas, the first of which was completed during the year, and the latter shortly after. The filling of these swamps, which eliminated the most serious malaria menaces in the island, was made possible through a P. W. A. grant, and was carried out by the United States Army dredge Houston and directed by officers of the United States Army Engineering Service. Draining and oiling of lesser swamps in all three islands continue. Constant vigilance is still needed in this work for the effective control of malaria in the islands.
In St. Thomas and St. John 5,160 persons between the ages of 3 and 50 years, or more than half the entire population, were inoculated with typhoid antitoxin during the year, making almost complete the immunization of the element of the community most susceptible to the disease. The result is that since July 19, 1934, not a single case of typhoid fever has been reported in the municipality. (In the preceding fiscal year there were 14 cases; this year there was 1 case.) There have been no cases of typhoid fever during the year in St. Croix, where an inoculation campaign among the school children was conducted 2 years ago.
In the study of filariasis, the most prevalent disease in St. Croix, 1,800 school children of all ages were given blood examinations. Over 275 gave positive reactions, though they showed no external signs of the disease. Over 80 percent of the applicants examined for E. C. W. enrollment likewise showed clinical signs of the disease. Though it causes few deaths, filariasis is to be blamed for a great amount of sickness and disability in St. Croix. The chief municipal physician is making an earnest effort to develop some method of eradication or control of the disease, and for this purpose is enlisting the aid of foremost United States authorities on the subject.
There have been no serious epidemics in the Virgin Islands during the year. In St. Thomas and St. John a number of infants and children fell victims to a wave of respiratory and gastro-intestinal diseases occurring the latter part of the fiscal year. In St. Croix an acute respiratory infection introduced from Puerto Rico affected a large number of people but caused no deaths. Three cases of infantile paralysis (anterior poliomyelitis) occurred in children in St. Croix, resulting in two deaths. There have been no further cases.
In St. Croix the recent large immigration of Puerto Rican peasants has introduced new menaces to the health of the islands. Two meriting special attention at the moment are the 'hookworm disease and schistosomiasis, both very prevalent in Puerto Rican immigrants to the island. The health department in St. Croix is making continued efforts to minimize this danger, and recommends examination of all immigrants before admission.
The chief municipal physician reports earnest attention to the problem of leprosy in St. Croix, which shows a higher incidence in St. Croix than in any other United States possession. The American mission to lepers and the Leonard Wood Memorial for Leprosy has given invaluable assistance in the past. The aid of the United States Public Health Service has also been enlisted, and it is hoped that they will cooperate further in the very necessary effort to combat this scourge.
For both St. Thomas and St. Croix, improved sewer systems are a necessity. The health department earnestly recommends appropriations for this purpose.
The department also earnestly calls on all citizens to aid in the effort to control and eradicate disease by whole-hearted cooperation with the sanitation department in the attempt to control breeding places of mosquitoes and flies. The citizenry are called upon to join in an active campaign for this purpose, the main points of which must consist in the elimination of unprotected sewage containers and prompt disposal of garbage for fly control, and elimination of stagnant water not screened or otherwise controlled against mosquito