Friday, Sept. 22 Update from Celia

We just saw this update from Celia, the director of the St. John Community Foundation:

9-22 IRMA-MARIA update SJCF-VOAD: Together we Rise! St. John Strong is not just a catchy phrase, it captures the spirit of our community, but even the strong need support to recover from a disaster like this. This is a team effort and boy what a team that has come together.

FEEDING: Red Cross served 1700 meals yesterday and approved feeding sites have 3 days worth of food as of this morning’s reports; Cruz Bay Landing and Longboard are open 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm. 420’s Sharky’s Machine continues to serve in an efficiently generous and continuous support mode. VITEMA/FEMA distribution points have 5 days worth and are located at JESS ball field in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay Fire Dept. The daily distribution kicks back in today and includes a case of water, a case of MRE’s for each household and other supplies such as bleach, canned goods, some clothes and cleaning supplies, and even ice when available. The 4 Cruz Bay markets are open with a good supply of dry and canned goods, as well as some frozen, but low on produce and fresh proteins. With 2 barges down, and STT flooding, we can expect that the purveyors will have limited delivery to STJ for the immediate future. Deliveries to the homebound are taking place and needs are expanding.

SHELTER: The shelter counts in Cruz Bay went from almost 100 to 38 last night as people are returning to their homes to patch and repair parts of their structures to shelter in place. Residents are urged to take many pictures of damage before repairing for insurance purposes and to register on the FEMA links or 800 # in yesterday’s post. The Bloomberg team is leading the restoration efforts in conjunction with VITEMA and FEMA – they rebuilt Staten Island after Hurricane Sandy and are bringing experience and support to the rebuilding of our island! Sharon reported that the Shelter Box Homes were not as vital as first thought as people are finding solutions created in the interim. Building materials are making their way out to families in need in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay, but more are needed. The shelter at JESS going to be transitioned up to Bethany due to leaking and the need for repairs to begin.

COMMUNICATION: The fiber optic cable was damaged in Maria, and the DIRT team is making sure there is a GATOR at the clinic and at the Coral Bay Fire Station to ensure some connectivity. Viya has taken the lead on getting service in Cruz Bay with word that the Port Authority parking lot was a hotspot, but many are still complaining of not having service. ATT and Sprint users seem to be suffering at the moment and hope that Viya and FEMA/VITEMA can work on a solution together with VINGN, Matt, Jason and others who had initiated connectivity after Irma. Sharon is getting internet correspondence in/out of Coral Bay. Communications are improving hourly!

TRANSPORTATION: Roads are being constantly cleared and mud and rockslides continue to be an issue. National Park is clearing North Shore Road. People are encouraged to stay off the roads. Ports are closed today and no word of reopening for pedestrian traffic, although all people ferries are reported as operable – right now only emergency and commercial deliveries are being considered. Delivery of diesel/fuel is a concern so people are also being urged to be conservative with their supply. Only two barges are in working order and when ports officially open, deliveries of equipment and supplies, and debris removal will be priority. Racetrack gas station’s generator continues to cause service interruption, but E&C is open.

SECURITY/MEDICAL: 31 NY troopers arrived today, however much of the military and FEMA deployments are needed in St. Croix and Puerto Rico with limited visibility on St. John as of this morning, but they are underway. The new police Chief Connolly was introduced this morning and seems to have things under control. The clinic is in good shape and a Dr. from John’s Hopkins is on St. John to offer expanded care options. Chelsea drugstore is open and now able to accept credit cards!

BANKING/BUSINESS: FEMA is working on getting armored ATMS for St. John; there is no word on when the banks will be open. Connections had been able to get Western Union connections working after IRMA, but for now can only send money out. St. John Hardware unpacked a container yesterday so has some good supplies (cash only for now).

SCHOOL/YOUTH: GHS is opening Monday as announced earlier, however due to the 6pm to 10am curfews in place, school will be from 10am-2pm (not 9am as previously announced). GHS, now being called the “private school for public use” will open for currently enrolled students 9/25 at 10 am on the 25th, and at noon, they will start interviewing families who want to send their children there. Money should not be a consideration, just a willingness to learn and a desire for continuing education. They will enroll students until they are at capacity, and then figure the rest out. More details to come on how to help them continue cultivating strong minds and caring hearts.

VOLUNTEERS: Cory is still coordinating volunteers from Connections; now through Monday, they are needed to help clean up GHS in prep for school to start there. The Grand Celebration will essentially be the “hotel” for the National Guard and first responders in St. Thomas, who are helping residents impacted by the storms. The boat has a capacity to house 2,000 people, and hopefully more will follow suit and we can have that as an option for volunteers down the road- details to come later. Please know that many aspects of this recovery will take weeks, months and even years ….and we WILL need you. Register online with Nation Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster in order to link into potential orgainizations in your area organizing mission trips. Click here for that link. You will be contacted once public officials and disaster relief organizations have had an opportunity to assess the damage and identify what the specific unmet needs are.

DONATIONS: Persons interested in helping Hurricane Irma/Maria disaster response in St. John can still best support the relief effort by making a cash donation instead of sending donated goods and services at this point in time. Cash donations to voluntary disaster relief organizations enables them to purchase exactly what is most needed whereas donated items require voluntary agencies to spend money and considerable time for sorting, inventorying, warehousing, and distribution of smaller shipments. We will get to the point of being able to do this for donations in the coming weeks, and continue to get and appreciate bulk containers of building materials and non-perishables.

Our community is resilient and with your help, we WILL rebuild! Support coming in now will help us revive and rebuild in what is going to be a long road ahead. As you may know, we were formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Marilyn and have been responsibly managing local and federal funds for over 28 years. The St. Croix Foundation will also need your help and the Community Foundation of the VI on St. Thomas is also receiving donations to help in this recovery effort.

To make a donation to the Foundation for St. John IRMA-MARIA relief efforts go to http://thestjohnfoundation.org/donate

15 thoughts on “Friday, Sept. 22 Update from Celia”

  1. Love the updates. I have a favor to ask…
    I stayed at the Garden by the Sea in May. The owners had just purchased it, we were their first guests. Lovely people. I have sent them an email but haven’t heard anything. Is there a way to find out if they are okay? I am so worried about them.
    Also, I had many beers at Sharkey’s place in May. We went to the same high school! Many years apart……what a guy, eh?
    God Bless you all…….

  2. The updates are awesome. I have a friend who lost a house there…..Callaloo was the name. I was lucky enough to get to stay there twice. We are praying for you all.

  3. Thank you so much for the posts. And please keep circulating the info for donations. That is how i learned the best place to make my contribution to help rebuild St John. It has been and always will be my favorite place to be. I have been coming for 20 years and will continue to for another 20-or as long as I am able! I pray for all the people who are there that each day is better than the one before-and for no more storms!

  4. Thank you for these updates! Information is hard to come by about St. John stateside and you’re a lifeline for those who love the island.

    Today’s post shows the strength of community and determination of St. John. Will get back there once there’s lodging and food…..hopefully in a few months.

    Thank you!

  5. Thank you for the detailed updates!
    Some of us own homes on St John & were not on island when the hurricanes hit. We want to come back to not only check on our properties but to help others.
    Our concern is that we will use up ” resources”
    Needed by others if we arrive too soon. We don’t want to become part of the problem… we want to help with solutions! We have donated $ . Can you let us know when we should consider coming down?

  6. Thank you for the updates. While we watched a beautiful sunset tonight from a Philadelphia suburb, my heart still aches over St. John’s devastation. If there is any consideration to house students on the mainland until the island recovers, count me in.

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  8. Thank you for the updates, these all sound very positive and encouraging! I was thinking I would like to do something special for the children, they’ve been through so much… What about a book drive and I can send some books down there do you think there would be a need?

  9. My wife and I have visited the island a few times and have completely fell in love with it. We have been absolutly devistated from a fair to hear and see everything that has happened to the island and surrounding islands and their people. We want so badly to help thr recovery but with having limited funs we just cant afford to help at this time which really bothers us. Daily I looks forward to seeing an update on this site to help keep us in the loop. Please keep the updates rolling.

  10. Thanks so much for the update. It has been so difficult getting accurate information. We own Arc du Soleil in Virgin Grand. We had some damage, but it is manageable. It is just the logistics of getting the help to people on island. Knowing people are safe and working together is so encouraging!

  11. Please keep us updated on the progress of the islands. My heart weighs heavy for everyone and I hope you get back to some normalcy soon! ❤️

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