Surviving Irma

#GrowingUpCrucian meant that we were taught about hurricane preparedness. I remember during hurricane season you could find hurricane tracking maps everywhere and how to track storms was part of the curriculum in school. It was so ingrained in us in elementary and middle school that it wasn’t strange at all to mention severe weather coming our way and hearing someone ask, ‘What’s the coordinates?’ St.Croix is17°44′23″N 64°44′20″W / 17.73972°N  (in case you were wondering). Weather is never taken lightly here in the Caribbean especially as it pertains to hurricanes. We build houses to withstand the elements. We stock supplies year-round, secure hurricane shutters and if and when the time comes we batten down the hatch, hunker down, wait, pray and hope. Evacuation is not as easy as it seems for various reasons. First off we are not on the mainland, so residents cannot simply drive to the next island or another state over out of harm’s way. The only way out is by air and air travel is expensive not only in the Caribbean but to the mainland as well. Other reasons include caring for elderly and ill family members. It just isn’t as easy as packing up the car and heading north.

This hurricane season has been incredibly active, with Hurricane Harvey ravaging Houston and the Gulf coast a few weeks ago. This past Wednesday, September 6th (Happy Birthday Mom!), Hurricane Irma, tore thru the Caribbean as a Category 5 hurricane leaving a path of chaos and destruction thru Anguilla, Barbuda, St.Maarten, Tortola and the rest of the BVI as well as my home in the U.S.Virgin Islands. Irma has the distinction of being the biggest Atlantic storm ever on record. Being further south of #HurricaneIrma, my island, St.Croix, was spared, we got lots of wind and rain, with a few downed fruit trees, no power or phone service in certain areas. Our sister islands, St.Thomas, St.John and the BVI took the brunt of the storm and suffered tremendous damage. I can say for certain I am thankful to have a safe place throughout the storm and a roof over my head. Many years ago after Hurricane Hugo, my family’s fate was not quite the same as we saw half of our roof blow off and spent the night huddled in a small closet. So believe me when I say that I feel a deep, significant loss for our sister islands. How does the saying go, ‘Who feels it knows it’, trust me we know this feeling very well. You don’t know where to start, what to do, basic survival and shelter becomes your primary concern. For this reason, everyone in our local community as well as Virgin Islanders on the mainland and abroad are doing their best to help in any way they can.

 

 

FEMA is already on the ground in St.Thomas and relief efforts to provide much-needed food, clothing and supplies have been organized here on St.Croix, Puerto Rico as well as the mainland. Often times people forget about the Caribbean and consider it to be nothing more than a vacation destination, disregarding the millions of people who have lived here for generations and livelihood has now been washed away. We have also been begging the Weather Channel, as well as the big network stations including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and Telemundo to provide more in-depth coverage of the area instead of just passing over us directly.

I want to take a minute to thank my faraway friends, family members and everyone who’s been checking in to make sure that my family and I are safe and offering to help as best they can. To be loved and to feel the love surrounding me and my loved ones is an incredibly powerful feeling. I am also so proud of the work we are doing as a collective community to help those in need. I will do my best to share as much information as I can.

St.Croix’s very own Tim Duncan, a Hurricane Hugo survivor, has organized a relief effort, 21 US Virgin Islands Hurricane Help. Tim is also a Hurricane Hugo survivor, you can read more about his story here. Duncan’s organization has a plane leaving with supplies from San Antonio next week, you can contact them directly to drop off supplies if you’re in the area. Duncan has also started a relief fund and has already donated $250k and will match up to $1 million. I just read that his fundraising efforts so far have surpassed the $1 million mark, GO TIMMY! #VISTRONG

As I receive more information I will be sure to update this post. If you have any information that you’d like to share you can contact me here or on any of my social pages.

Together we are #CaribbeanStrong.

Financial Contributions

St.Croix Foundation
21 US Virgin Islands Relief Fund – Tim Duncan
St. Croix Foundation – Caribbean Assistance and Relief Effort (CARE)
Richard Branson/Virgin BVI COMMUNITY SUPPORT APPEAL
St. John Rescue
Caribbean Sea Adventures
USVI Hurricane IRMA Relief Fund – VI United (John P. Wheatley)
Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands
BVI Hurricane Relief Irma Fund
Convoy of Hope-BVI

Toiletries/Clothing/Medical Supplies and Non-Perishables Item Location Drop Off

St.Croix
Cane Bay Dive Shop Frederiksted and North Shore-
The Shoe Bar
Caribbean Sea Adventures
Juan Luis Hospital Nursery (needs supplies for infants and newborns)- 340- 772-7348- ask for Faye
Island Moms Rock! -#OperationBabies (will be at Kmart West until 4:00 pm today September 10th)
Seaborne Airlines- Seaplane Base (Christiansted)

Puerto Rico
Seaborne AirlineRoblex Aviation Center- Ave Jose (Tony) Santana, World Cargo Building B, Carolina, Puerto Rico, 0097

Shelters
Shelters in St.Croix are being set up to accommodate evacuees from St.Thomas and St.John, if you would like to volunteer please contact 340-626-6288.

Facebook Groups
Helping the Virgin Islands Recover
USVI Hurricane Irma Alert
BVI Abroad
What’s Going On Virgin Islands?
What’s going on St. John, US Virgin Islands
US Virgin Islands Hurricane Watchers
Eyes on the Storm Caribbean

DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with any organizations listed. I have done my best to reach out directly to members of these organizations to provide information about their ongoing efforts. If you are hesitant about making a financial contribution please consider donating well-needed supplies. If you would like to help and are in the Puerto Rico, Atlanta, DMV, Raleigh, Charlotte, San Antonio, Houston or Phoenix area they are several organizations and individual where you can drop off clothing, food and other supplies. Some are listed on the flyers below. This is not an exhaustive list and will continue to be updated as more information can be vetted and provided. Information has been pulled from a variety of sources to have relief resources available in one central place.

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. September 11, 2017 / 2:11 am

    Thank y0u for getting this information out so quickly. Caribbean people are well-seasoned with Hurricane drama and we always survive! There is also a petition going around for signature to get major news outlets to continue to give coverage to the U.S.VI. Link here: http://bit.ly/2xeRK7x

    • A.Hiroko
      September 11, 2017 / 8:05 pm

      No worries. My goal was to get as much information out as soon as possible. I will make sure to share the petition link as well, we all have a part to play in making our voice heard and supporting our islands thru this difficult time. #VIStrong

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