Last Saturday was a really good day. Together with a few St. Johnians and one St. Thomian we loaded up CatZilla and headed to Jost Van Dyke with half a pallet of water donated by St. John Hardware, dog food donated by the Animal Care Center of St. John, batteries and flashlights donated by multiple individuals, and tarps and more supplies sourced and donated by Love City Strong. With all this help, we were able to get Catzilla off loaded and stock their temporary supply distribution center. It was very clear that they very much needed these supplies; we were greeted warmly but soon people started asking about supplies and what they could get from us, making it clear that they need our help.
The people of Jost Van Dyke have been without running water since BEFORE the storms and still don’t have electricity. Many residents are living in tents while their homes and places of business are being reconstructed and they only have the supplies that individuals are bringing in. They have essentially been on their own since Irma devastated the island, with local residents clearing the roads in heavy machinery and working together to begin the rebuilding process.
While the people of Jost Van Dyke have been struggling with no power and no running water, they are the picture of resilency and they have taken the task to restore their tourism based businesses as a priority. Foxy’s was already open and we had a great simple lunch and some ice cold beers after transporting supplies all morning and it was a very welcome reprieve. We were told the other bars and restaurants are working towards a December 1st opening and it’s essentially a double edged sword for them. They KNOW that they need the tourism and the money that tourism brings to their little island, but they really aren’t ready to be fully open. However after speaking with some of the bar owners and managers, it was clear that regardless of being ready emotionally and physically or not, they had to do it in order to survive financially. We plan to fully support them by continuing these supply runs once a week until it’s no longer needed and by purchasing food and drinks every time we visit.