Good Morning, Good Morning! I’m happy to report today that Fiona left St. John pretty well unscathed with the exception of nasty winds and rains throughout the entire weekend. The airports and seaports are now open again and, with the exception of public schools remaining closed for the day in the USVI, everything is back to business as usual on St. John. However, Fiona has not been as kind to Puerto Rico, and we should all set our sights on the upcoming recovery and relief efforts for our sister island as this continually building storm is leaving catastrophic flooding in her path throughout the larger territory to our west.
Ok, first, let’s take a look at St. John this weekend and see what Tropical Storm Fiona was like on the ground. The rain, which began on Friday afternoon, continues to fall and winds, although not as heavy, are also not fair at present. Accumulation over the past month has been 5.70 inches with 1.09 inches of that over just the past 24 hours (20.97 inches for the year according to St. John VI Weather). Mud puddles and greenery are thriving right now. 🙂 No flooding has been reported on STJ as far as I have seen but Fiona is ONE LARGE storm at present as her bands are currently reaching from the Virgin Islands all the way to the Dominican Republic. So, the rain continues.
Aside from a few branches down and one power boat reported as “on the rocks” in Great Cruz Bay, damages are nonexistent here on St. John. A stressful 48 hours of not knowing what would happen surmounted as big winds rolled in yesterday afternoon at Fionas departure from the territory. So, storm related stress and PTSD for those who lived through Irma are likely the biggest repercussions Love City will see from this particular storm.
Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) even managed to keep the current live on St. John throughout Fiona; with the exception of a two-hour outage on Friday evening. However, power in certain areas of St. John (Feeder 9C) is currently down and WAPA is reporting storm related damages as the culprit.
Public schools in the territory are closed today but essential employees will be reporting to work in order to assess storm related cleanup to get the schools ready for the kiddos to report back tomorrow. The Virgin Islands National Park Visitor Center will also remain closed until tomorrow morning.
One hour ago, the Coast Guard declared the seaports as “All Clear” and ferries resumed regular service between St. Thomas and St. John.
The airport on St. Thomas is also open. But, due to inclement weather conditions in the area, I advise you strongly to contact your airline prior to departure in order to get an accurate flight status. Specifically, flights routed through Puerto Rico will likely experience disruptions in service.
And, speaking of Puerto Rico…the scenes from this beautiful island are absolutely heartbreaking right now. Fiona strengthened as she passed the Virgin Islands and was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane as she made her exit from our waters. She has blown across Puerto Rico over the past 24 hours with winds up to 90 MPH in areas and an immense TWENTY FIVE INCHES of rain was reported in Ponce on the Southern Coast of our sister island. Catastrophic flooding has been reported in the southern, central and western portions of the island which is home to over 3 million people.
At the very beginnings of the storm, the entire island lost power, leaving 1.3 million homes in the dark as Fiona passed over Puerto Rico on Sunday night. Officials say that it could take days to rectify the situation. All of this occurred just 48 hours prior to the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Marias similar impact to the 3,500 square mile island.
Yes, yes…I know this is News of ST. JOHN. So, why are we talking about Puerto Rico? Well, aside from the decades of comradery that the USVI holds with our neighboring territory, residents and visitors of St. John who were here for Hurricane Irma hold an incredibly special place in their hearts for the Spanish Virgin Islands and PR. You see, in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophic storm, evacuation and supply boats from Puerto Rico rushed to our aid.
Relief efforts were immediately coordinated in the harbors of the larger territory in order to evacuate visitors and residents of St. John. They brought food, water and other immediately needed supplies as Irma had spared both St. Croix and Puerto Rico from her catastrophic winds. These efforts continued until, on September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria delivered a blow, similar to that of Fiona, to the island territory that had been literally saving us. And, that, specifically, is why we are talking about Puerto Rico.
Some St. John evacuees were stuck on Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria and received hospitality and a safe place to weather their second Cat 5 storm in just two weeks from residents and hotels in San Juan….
In the coming days, weeks and months, I urge you to keep your sights set on fundraising efforts for Puerto Rico. As the weeks go on, I will be compiling a list of ways to help in order to share it with all of you if you are interested in coordinating something yourself or simply donating to the cleanup. Please remember, as much as St. John feels fully recovered from the catastrophic events of five years ago, Puerto Rico is a MUCH larger space with MANY more people and, I can tell you from my own personal time spent there, they have still not recovered from Maria. Fiona is a devastating blow to their still recovering infrastructure and economy. They will need our help in the months to come.
Tomorrow, we will get back to business as usual here on News of St. John…I have a very exciting raffle announcement coming up tomorrow (A week at Lovango Resort + Beach Club in the prize package make this one SUPER special!). And, later this week, an innovative way to book your stay at the Westin and a Caneel Bay update. I am looking forward to getting away from all of this storm talk over the next few days. Stay safe out there and have a fantastic Monday!
(Cover Photo- Flyaway Charters)