I’ve spent the last hour or so rereading posts from last year. Posts I made leading up to Hurricane Irma and posts I made in the days after. I’ve also read hundreds of comments left by all of you.
What I’m seeing and reading is pretty amazing. The love and support you showed us in those days leading up to Irma, during the hurricane itself and the days, weeks, and months after is palpable.
I really don’t know what to say today. So if I start to rant, please forgive me.
On September 8, 2017 I asked you all for help on my Facebook page. At that time, many of us on St. John felt forgotten. I asked you all to reach out to any media contacts you had, to call your congresspeople, to contact anyone you thought could help our situation. And you did. You did more than I ever could have imagined.
That single post was shared 23,000 times. Twenty-three thousand times. It was seen by 2,437,133 people just on Facebook alone. That’s pretty incredible. And you know what? It worked. It alerted people to our plight, and it helped get additional help to the islands. And that’s a credit to all of you. Thank you.
The day before Irma, I posted that our world was about to change and despite the inevitable destruction that was on the horizon, we would show you the best of humanity. And this island did. It was, and continues to be, awe-inspiring to witness.
You know, those first few months before you all starting trickling back onto the island were strange. Sure it was strange because we were adjusting to our new post-hurricane world, but it was also weird to not have you all here. I’m not sure if you all realize this, but many of us here on island feed off of the energy of the constant influx of visitors. I know I certainly do. And I missed that. So thank you for coming back. I wish I could happy hour with each and every one of you! Cheers to that!
So what’s the state of the island today? Well it’s pretty darn good. All of our beaches and trails are open, and have been since late last year. We have countless villas and condos available to rent, and many of those damaged during the storms are currently undergoing repairs. The Westin is working hard on its rebuild and is on schedule to reopen in January 2019. The future of Caneel Bay, however, remains in limbo, so there is no telling when it will reopen. And while many of our restaurants and bars are currently closed for low season, dozens will be open for you to enjoy this winter. And yes, Joe’s Rum Hut and The Beach Bar will reopen this year … I promise you that! Lastly, the airlines are expanding their flight schedules making it easier for you to visit us. Things are happening here.
It’s now 12:27 a.m. and I should totally be snoozing. Dalton is sleeping peacefully beside me. Can we chat about him for a moment?
I’ve always said that I thought St. John was a great place to raise a child. I just never knew that I would be fortunate enough to have that experience. And little Dalton’s story is a good one. Well it is in my opinion.
My boyfriend and I evacuated six days after Irma. His restaurant was destroyed, and I had no way of communicating with all of you. We figured it’d be best to evacuate so not to take up the island’s limited resources.
We returned to St. John on one of Kenny Chesney’s relief planes on October 3, 2017. A little over a month later, we learned we would be first-time parents.
Being pregnant in a disaster zone certainly wasn’t the easiest, but it also gave me purpose. And that’s something I really needed back then. There were so many days when I would have preferred to daydrink at the Landing all day, or sip wine until the wee hours of the morning. There were days where I, and many others, simply struggled to get out of bed. But I couldn’t succumb to any of that because I had this precious little life to take care of. I can honesty say that Dalton, coupled with the love and support from all of you, is what got me though the last year. Again, thank you.
They say that not all storms come to disrupt your life. Some come to clear your path. Hurricane Irma led me to Dalton. So that’s my silver lining to this storm.
It’s now 12:43 a.m. and I’m getting weary. So I think I am going to end this post here. Again, I cannot adequately say how much your love has touched my life. I have read the comments. I have read the emails. I apologize if I have not yet responded to them all, but I assure you I have read them. If you are reading this site, it means you love St. John, and I love you for that.
So in true St. John fashion, let’s raise a glass and toast us all today. It’s been one hell of a year, but we all made it through it together. Much love to you all.