What A Year It Has Been
Life After Hurricane Irma
Boats lined the beach at wharf side village, huge trees were down everywhere trapping people in their homes, power was out and would be for months to come, power lines down in the streets covered Cruz Bay, and the overall feeling was shock and awe. As we walked through the streets of Cruz Bay that morning and hugged people we loved, we took in the staggering damage, but we felt so lucky to see so much still standing and everyone surviving. We knew we’d be without cell service for a while, but managed to find wifi in order to send out some notes to family letting them know we were okay.
Seeing Caneel Bay the first time was a bit of a shock, but the bigger shock was how quickly residents got the streets cleared WITHOUT ANY outside help. In two days you could drive all the way to Fish Bay; there were trees with trunks the size of a truck tire and those roads got cleared in two days. We were looking at another storm coming in the Saturday following Irma and no government agencies would risk coming in until after that threat had passed. Locals banned together and worked HARD. The days following Irma were filled with hot, hot work clearing driveways and roads, hauling ice and water back and forth, and just overall figuring out this new (thankfully temporary,) way of life. We were extremely lucky and still had a roof over our heads, so we were hot but prepared and couldn’t feel anything but Thankful, especially when we found out that CatZilla had survived. I remember clearly the night that the Navy rolled into Cruz Bay, it was the first time I felt 100% that things would be okay. We had all this help coming in for this tiny island, all the people we love were okay, and things would eventually be good again.
We managed to get off St John using CatZilla and brought kids, dogs, and about ten people over to Puerto Rico, not knowing that Hurricane Maria was about to hit. We were lucky there too and in the weeks and months that followed we put together a plan to do as much to help as we could and started running supply trips to Jost Van Dyke as soon as we could. There are still people on Jost Van Dyke living in tents to this day. With a generator set up at our apartment in Cruz Bay and the coolers from the boat, we were able to get setup to live without power for a while. Then BBC Electric out of Joplin Missouri arrived, and Cruz Bay got power back staggeringly quickly; by November Cruz Bay was lit up again, and the Lime Inn dropped the NYE ball from a BBC bucket truck. As the recovery continued, there were so many stand outs in the community and so many people proved again and again that it was possible to have faith in humanity, making us all very proud to live in the Virgin Islands. There have been a lot of donations coming into this small little island, and we are all so thankful for every single one of you that donated money to help us in our time of need. There’s another kind of support that we couldn’t live without and that is tourism. Without tourism, we would never recover.
So please celebrate today with a painkiller and book your next trip down; we need you and we are so excited for the future of this amazing little island as we recover amid the struggles of normal-ish life on an island.
The Navy Arriving
Jost Van Dyke
The new Sandy Spit
Trees Getting Green again
The Final Boat Removal
Saint John Today