A Message from Andrea.


Hello everyone and happy Monday. We came across the following message posted yesterday by Andrea Milam Chouinere on Facebook. We thought you’d all enjoy reading it. Andrea gave us permission to share it with all of you.

September 24. Eighteen days since Irma, so I suppose it’s time for the rumors to start flying (though in full disclosure I’ve heard some pretty wild rumors since day one). In recent days I’ve heard that the food supply is dangerously close to running out. The fuel supply is dwindling. The attention that’s been focused on St. John has been sent to Puerto Rico and St. Croix, and the general feeling is that the island of St. John has been left in the dark and it’s only a matter of days before this community descends into full turmoil. People are tense and fist fights are breaking out.

Now as someone who’s actually here on island with no plans to leave can I tell you what I’ve seen? School starts tomorrow. My son’s youth steel orchestra has gotten together twice in the last week to put the pan yard back together and to start making beautiful music again. I’ve shared genuine hugs with people I generally only pass by with a nod. I purchased nectarines, grapes, ground beef, and bacon from Starfish with a local check and an immense amount of gratitude for the opportunity to save our precious cash. I see people waiting calmly in line for MREs and cases of water. I hear people speaking gratitude for the two hot meals a day provided for free by a handful of local restaurants. I see people welcoming others into their homes for shelter, a meal, a cold beer, or whatever they have to offer. I see people accepting the reality of our situation and moving on despite disaster.

Will it all be sunshine and rainbows in the months to come? Of course not! We experienced a direct hit by one of the most powerful hurricanes on record followed by the threat of Jose and getting more than brushed by Maria. But my family and I choose to see the positive. We choose to pick up the pieces and figure out how we can move forward as a community. Those who care about us, please trust me when I say that if we didn’t feel safe or sustainable here we’d evacuate as soon as possible, and this is what I hope those who are not happy here are planning to do. No snark intended. I sincerely hope that those who remain on island are able to help focus on recovery efforts and moving forward, and that those who don’t feel safe here can get somewhere they do feel safe so they can process the trauma we’ve all gone through. Everyone has to make the decision that’s right for them and I don’t fault people on either side.

Above all else I hope that people pause for a moment before sharing the latest sensationalist report with their own layer of fear added on top. I understand that I do not speak for everyone on St. John so I will say with clarity that while we’ve been seriously beaten down by Mother Nature, there is no community the Chouinieres would rather be a part of in such a situation than LOVE CITY!


Side note: Andrea is also a travel writer. Click here to check out her website.

18 thoughts on “A Message from Andrea.”

  1. So happy to read your story today ! We just love St John n are heartbroken for everyone that lives there n vacations there ! We have been coming every January for the past 15 years! So sad to see the island now!!

    Our trip has been canceled for now but we will be back n we have faith that island will recover !! Sending prayers n well wishes to all!!!

  2. Andrea, Thank you for the positive overview. Once fear is removed, there is hope. We are all more energized by hope and motivated to help.
    Debby Taylor & Mark Epply

  3. Your letter is beautiful and lets us know that the people of St John are staying strong, as we knew they would. There is something so special about your island home. It is not just the natural beauty, but the beauty of the people who live there. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. Please tell me the best group to donate to help in recovery efforts. Thank you. Nancy

  4. Hi Andrea, Thank you so much for sharing your story! I am holding a giant community yard sale Oct 15 to raise money for Hurricane relief, Is there a specific fund on St john?

  5. Positive attitude will bring St. John back to it’s previous splendor. Prayers for all those who have been affected and best wishes to you in your present situation.

  6. Andrea – First – our love to you and your family. We too own a home on St John and were there during the hurricane with our daughter, her husband and our grandson. It took us quite some time to get back to our permanent home in Philadelphia but we are SO anxious to get back to support the community and lend whatever help we can give. St John is truly paradise on earth and WE KNOW IT WILL COME BACK STRONGER THAN EVER with people like your family offering such uplifting messages of hope. If not before, we will be back in November to celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary. Hope to connect with you then!

    Cathy & Lou Velez

  7. Andrea, we are sailors who left our boat in PR for a few months this summer. It needs some work before being fully sea worthy, but we’d like to get back to help in the next month or so. What do you think about the “safety” of parking our catamaran around the island and helping? Any suggestions? We spent several months there last year and would be happy to lend support!

    Thanks, Alex & Jeff

  8. I celebrate the fact that things are going so well for you. I also hear from friends who are having a hard time – homes uninhabitable, staying with friends, job gone so no income, no where else to go or money to get there … there will be many perspectives on St. John’s recovery in the coming months, but everyone has their story & deserves to be heard.

  9. Andrea, thank you for sharing your story. St John is a place that our family vacations EVERY year and can’t wait til February to return for the next one! We continue to pray for everyone as the rebuild.

  10. I lived on St. John for many years and I can tell you that her story is not an uncommon feeling that most St.Johnian people have! It’s called Love City for a reason and it certainly lives up to its name!! Rock on STJ❤️❌⭕️❤️

  11. “Do not allow the fear of what if to ruin the joy of what is” You and your approach are a joyful what is♡♡♡♡♡ LOVE TO YOU, Love City.

  12. This was truly one of the most positive message that I have read about St. John. My love for the destination will only continue because of people like yourself who show resilience and gratitude irregardless of situation. Keep up the positive attitude and this shall transcend to your kids. Thank you for sharing.

  13. We visit STJ every year. It is my “heart home”. We will be there in late January and hope to pitch in any way we can. STJ is the one place all of us feel totally relaxed and at peace. Thank you so much for your words. It helps to know that things are moving in a positive direction.

  14. Thank you for your uplifting post. We love SJ and you are in our prayers. Lutheran Disaster Relief will be with you all the way (locally Nazareth Lutheran Church).

  15. Thank you for sharing this with us. We are booked to come visit in April and I am hopeful that we still may be able to support the people of the island at that time.

  16. Thanks for the more accurate update on conditions on St. John, We have been visiting there since 1969 and absolutely love the place. We have passed on this love to our daughters and now our grandchildren. We are supposed to be there in April 2018 and are hoping that the Island recovers enough for us to do so. If there is any way for you to communicate the conditions on a periodic basis we would certainly appreciate it. Let us know where we would find your updates. Thanks,

    • Thank you for this post! What outlet do you trust most for donations? We want tho hello but, want to ensure those who need out most shill get it

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