October 10th Update from Jenn 

October 10th Update from Jenn  1

Hello folks. I apologize for not being able to write yesterday. My signal was rather poor in the morning when I was in the area where an actual signal is available. 

Today’s post is going to be about random tidbits, so please bear with me. 🙂 For starters, I’d like to chat about communications. Tammy Donnelly and I were chatting about this at The Marketplace the other day. (And for those of you who are unfamiliar with Tammy, she’s a longtime resident and a realtor here on island. She wrote up a market analysis regarding St. John post-hurricanes the other day and sent it to me. I will share that with all of you later this week.)

So Tammy and I started to chat about the future of tourism, when the island will be ready and that led to a conversation about property management companies. When my emails come through – which is rather infrequent – I can see that a lot of you are concerned because you have upcoming vacations scheduled and have not heard from your property managers. For those of you who have not heard from your property managers yet, it could potentially be a communications issue due to the island’s current state. There are a handful of spots on the island where you can actually get cell service. It’s very common to be driving down the road and “ding!” you hear a text message come through. So what do you do? You stop your car right there and use the signal! It’s happening in different spots around the island, and it’s quite funny to see. But that’s our new normal, so this is what we do. (Side note: I have not been able to use my laptop to connect to the internet since before Irma. The only way I’ve been connecting is via cell phone.)

Tammy was saying that many property managers work out of their homes, likely on a desktop computer. This means it’s possible that they simply cannot answer emails yet. Yes, there is free wifi here and there around town and in Coral Bay at the fire station, but the signal strength is not always as strong as we need it to be. Sending emails is very difficult. It’s rather easy to send a text when we have a bit of signal, but video is near impossible. Some websites may load while others may not. It’s like living in 1995 all over again. (And that’s simply a random year, but I think you all understand what I’m trying to say here.)

So the bottom line is: If you have not heard about your upcoming vacation rental yet or rental car, etc., don’t stress. If your planned vacation is scheduled for October, just consider it cancelled. November and December remain iffy, (November is super iffy in my book) although I have hope that we can have some form of tourism by Christmas. But a lot of variables come into play with that. There is talk about a new “voluntourism” type of tourism which may be offered in the future, but those details are still being hashed out. We will share those details with all of you as soon as they are ready.

If you have a trip planned for 2018, do not stress. That is several months away and it’s very possible that your trip will go through as planned. We want you all back, trust me. But like I said the other day, we just need a little time. One of my friends said it best the other day – if your house flooded, you wouldn’t invite your friends over for a Super Bowl party the next week. That’s pretty much what’s happening here.

On to the next random thought… A wild rumor I heard this morning is that the island smells like death – dead animals, etc. That is simply not true. I have driven all around Cruz Bay and the west side of the island, up to Maho, over to Francis, out to Coral Bay and even Salt Pond and Concordia, and I haven’t smelled anything of the sort. So I am not sure how that is making the rounds online, but it’s simply not true.

Speaking of my drives, I have so much video to share with you later this week and next. I am taking as much as I can and will head north later this week, so I can have strong enough signal to upload it and share it with all of you. Then I will head back south and work some more.

Now, I’d like to give thanks to a number of businesses who are really helping the community. Cruz Bay Landing and The Longboard are still serving free meals every day, twice a day. Indigo Grill in Coral Bay is also serving free meals. Thank you all for that. The following restaurants have opened as well – although not all are open daily – but they deserve a big thanks for serving the community, offering foods and drinks, and most importantly, boosting morale here on island. So thank you Sun Dog Cafe, 420 to Center, Dog House Pub, Quiet Mon, Uncle Joe’s, the fun little bar behind Nella’s Cafe, Hercules, Cap’s Place, Sam & Jack’s, Pizzabar in Paradise and Wok on the Beach. You’re all amazing. And if I forgot anyone, please let me know.

And lastly, the pic at the top of this post was taken at one of my favorite places on island. A bench used to sit where these two lawn chairs are. So to the person who placed these there after the bench flew down the hill, thank you. That’s it for today folks. I hope you all have an amazing Tuesday!

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66 thoughts on “October 10th Update from Jenn ”

  1. I love your updates – thanks so much for them all and for keeping us informed. WOuld love to come back late Spring for a quick visit – but will wait and ensure the island is ready for us. We’ve already rebooked our November trip to November 2018 so the countdown is on!

      • Jenn,
        I have been following you for a long time, long before the hurricanes punched our little island right in the gut. Since the storms, I have no less then 6 other sites I check daily. ( yeah, I know….) But that picture…. of those two chairs….. I know that place so well….. that one really got to me…. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. Thank you for your daily updates – it really makes my day! We have been traveling to St. John for over 23 years – I miss it sooooo bad. Now, unfortunately, I have stage 4 cancer and 60+ chemo treatments later, I really don’t feel comfortable visiting with out a hospital. We have several dear friends on island that we are still in touch with. Carolyn Nunez and the Penn Family to name a few. Although, not the best circumstances, it brightens my day to see a little bit of sunshine everyday with your posts. Thanks you again and love to all – God Bless St. John and all of the lovely people of the Virgin Islands!

  3. So sorry that Concordia got hit so hard (almost all of STJ too!!) – we have irreplaceable memories of visits to Maho Bay Camps!! I was amazed to see that the new ecotents at Cinnamon looked like they remained intact!! Any comments on them and when they might reopen? Thanks so much!

  4. Good Morning Jenn, thanks as always. If you don’t mind I would like to share with you our experience regarding our trip in April 2018. For us, the biggest problem is Delta. I am not judging or casting shade on them. They had a business to run, and they have tried to accommodate people. But unfortunately, the window to change or rebook flights closes, without penalty, at the end of this month for flights impacted by Irma/Maria. Furthermore, we booked our flights last June, which only gives us until June 2018 to use the tickets. I have 2 kids in high school so our dates are not flexible. To add insult to injury, the villa we rented was heavily damaged, and the booking company is on island with virtually no connectivity. We finally talked last Wednesday, for about 1 min with a horrible connection, they are refunding us our deposit. We asked if they had another villa to rent and they are not taking any reservations at this time. Fortunately, we did find another villa to rent and are still able to come. We worked with Carefree Getaways, they have been great to work with and I would highly recommend them. Anyway, it all worked out in the end, but you are right you will need a lot of patience. I am sure that it will be a very different place in April 2018 than it was in April 2017. But STJ is always changing and every evolving.

    • Paul: Our Rental Company won’t refund deposit. They will take 20% from the total we owe if we cancel before December 13th. Could you share the name of the original rental company you worked with? Thanks, Carol

    • Hi
      Was your original booking with Carefree Getaways or the new one you made? We also are suppose to come in April and can’t confirm anything.

  5. Thank you so much for all you are doing, Jenn. I look forward to these updates. My thoughts and love go out to all. I can’t wait for the day my husband and I can return to St. John for a very long visit, perhaps even as part of a voluntourism deal. Again, thank you!

  6. Speaking of property managers, I received a pleasant surprise a couple of days ago – a phone call from Terry Witham in Coral Bay. She shared their survival story from the hurricanes, and how the villa we stayed in last time is just above their house (they watched the roof from Fun & Contentment fly past them). We had a good laugh about how she still keeps her reservations on paper in a notebook. I had never met her before, but it was good to hear her voice. We had a trip planned for November, but have rerouted elsewhere. We’ll be back though!

  7. Thank you Jenn, I’m usually there in January not sure about this year! I love reading your posts.
    I go to Our Kady Of Mt Carmel Church when I’m there but haven’t heard anything about it if you can shed some light on that it would be very grateful! Love STJ and the USVI!! ❤️

  8. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us and quelling the rumors. You are an excellent reporter because you are truthful and thorough. Can’t wait to see your videos.

  9. Thank you Jenn. In keeping a central line of commutation updated daily and open to all, is providing motivation and determination.

  10. Thanks so much for your updates. I read your updates and everyone else’s. I went through IRMA but evacuated before Maria. I am sitting here stateside feeling like a useless turd. Hearing the positives about what’s happening is what keeps the vibrations positive there. So keep on Spreading the love. BTW Tammy rocks. She was my Realator when I bought and sold the Love Palace which I am proud to say is still standing.

  11. Thank you for your updates! I appreciate the thoughts about tourism and patience. I have a villa, flights, Jeep booked for 8 Tuff 2018, which is now cancelled. (Except an unofficial run.) I’ve been wondering about turning that trip into a voluntourism trip, but concerned about using resources (food, water, fuel) that are needed for islanders. I’ll keep checking here for updates and I know I’ll get back some day, some way. In the meantime, sending prayers and donations.


  12. Thanks for these updates, Jenn. For those of us who think of St. John as a second home, these first hand accounts are invaluable. I appreciate you not sugar coating the realities, but also giving us windows of hope. I am very much interested in this idea of voluntourism. Our vaca is still scheduled for 2 weeks in March, and if that means we’re working everyday in the rebuilding effort, then that’s what we’ll do. St. John strong.
    -Nell Muldoon

  13. Hi Jenn,
    I appreciate your helpful information and insight. I am applying to various organizations to assist with the ongoing recovery / rebuild with the hope of eventually relocating to St. John.

    Thanks for all you do. Be safe.

    Michele Z

  14. Thank you so much for the updates andnews, Jenn.

    My fiance and I are traveling to St. John in early January for our honeymoon. Last month we spoke with the owner of the rental property about our stay and the condition of things. She was very kind and willing to accommodate us if we chose to cancel. We decided not to cancel, however. The property sustained no major exterior damage, and the owner assured us they plan to reopen for tourists in January – of course, with the knowledge that things will be very different on the island for a log time. As long as we are able to rent a car, buy food, and have running water, we’re fine. We’re both excited about going. We’re also hoping to be able to help in any way while we’re there.

  15. Thank you so much for the updates and news, Jenn.

    My fiance and I are traveling to St. John in early January for our honeymoon. Last month we spoke with the owner of the rental property about our stay and the condition of things. She was very kind and willing to accommodate us if we chose to cancel. We decided not to cancel, however. The property sustained no major exterior damage, and the owner assured us they plan to reopen for tourists in January – of course, with the knowledge that things will be very different on the island for a log time. As long as we are able to rent a car, buy food, and have running water, we’re fine. We’re both excited about going. We’re also hoping to be able to help in any way while we’re there.

  16. Still waiting to hear back from the volunteer organizations. I would love to know if we can just fly down and help clean up. I can bring my own tent and supplies. Would I be able to do so at the end of October or early in November?

  17. Hi Jenn. Thank you for the updates! You mentioned that you went swimming at Hawksnest. I was under the impression all beaches were closed. Are some still open at your own risk? We will be coming early January. Appreciate your information as we get conflicting stories.

  18. Like so many others who have commented here, my wife and I consider St. John to be the most special place in the world. Thank you Jenn for helping keep our dream alive.

    For those wondering about Caneel Bay, I just received this email from their management:

    We thank you for the overwhelming support we have received from so many of you in the past few weeks.

    We are heartbroken by the devastation caused to the island of St. John and the USVI following the Category 5 Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017, and then exacerbated by Category 4 Hurricane Maria on September 19th. Unfortunately, Caneel Bay Resort was also devastated and while we are happy to report all our employees survived the storm, Caneel Bay did not. Sadly, it is impossible to open for the 2017/2018 Season.

    We are working diligently with Federal and local authorities to attend to the business realities necessary to rebuild Caneel Bay, which is critical to help rebuild the lives of the USVI citizens. After all, Caneel Bay is as much about the people as it is about the place.

    Speaking on behalf of the entire resort team, we want to express our gratitude for the support you have shown us over the years and past few weeks. The Laurence Rockefeller legacy is one of champion and guardian of the community, which the Caneel Bay team has always honored. Now more than ever this is our commitment.

    We look forward to welcoming you back to Caneel Bay Resort.

    Please stay in touch by visiting us online at http://www.caneelbay.com or by email: [email protected]

    • David, thank you so much for this news of Caneel Bay. This is the first confirmation we have heard that Caneel Bay is actually re-opening. It is so reassuring to hear and that there is commitment to the community and environmental values that were the foundation of Caneel Bay’s founding.

    • So – does this mean that they WILL open eventually – or that they’re not sure whether they will ever reopen or not? When I phoned the office today, the nice woman I spoke with said she just didn’t know what was happening in the future.

  19. Thanks for the update. We first came to St. John in 1994 and have been back each year since. We have our April 2018 trip booked and hope we will still be able to come. Back in the late ’90’s STJ was a bit quieter and “rugged” and we loved it that way. So maybe next year’s trip will be a bit of a throwback to the “old style St John.” Would love to hear more about any future voluntourism opportunities, When the archaeological dig was going on at Cinnamon, I was able to volunteer and shift sand and be part of the activities for that. It was a great memory. I was sorry to see the little museum destroyed. Thanks Jen, stay safe and love from CT.

  20. Thanks Jenn. We consider STJ our home away from home. We plan to return in July.

    2 Questions:

    1. Is the Limeinn okay?

    2. Will Shipwreck come back?


  21. Thank you so much Jenn. I greatly appreciate all the honest information you share with us. This all helps me prepare for my trip down in November, to help however possible.

  22. Looking forward to hearing more about a few days of family voluntourism. Hope there’s sign up lists and suggestions of ways to help. I have also read of frustration that volunteering could take potential employment opportunities away from people who have lost jobs on the island. One example mentioned on TA was Cinnamon Bay Campgrounds offer to house volunteers willing to repair the place. I hope volunteourism is not at the expense of employment opportunities.

  23. Thank you for the updates. Started following you not long before the storms. Was on OnStJohn.com then discovered they shut down! You have given all us St. John visitors reason to hope. Been a few years since we were there so once the island is back on it’s feet, a return trip is in order!

  24. Good day! We have two family Foundations, seven children from 35 to 16, with significant others, husbands, wives and now grandchildren. Our Foundations mission and focus is on health care and housing needs. We feel strongly about St. John and would appreciate a recommendation on how we can help. We were all planning a family holiday before the storm, and now would like to volunteer in helping with the clean up and rebuilding. Thank you for the opportunity to help!

  25. Thank you for all the updates, Jenn. Although we won’t be visiting this January as planned, we appreicate all the heroic efforts to restore the health of this beautiful island and hope to be back soon.

  26. We are still hoping to come down in April, 2018. Our rental company has an office in Maine so we have heard from them. They give us the condition of the house but nothing else really. No concessions are being made by them so we won’t use them again after this next trip. So we are interested in the conditions of the roads and the beaches. We go to all the beautiful beaches and hike the trails. Thanks for all your reports.

  27. Thank you so much for these updates! I am one of the many with a future trip in the lurch… was hoping to go over new years. I also may be interested in the voluntourism idea! give back and vacation at the same time! please keep us posted on those ideas.

  28. Jenn~Thank you so much for keeping us updated. We look forward to your news everyday! You tell it like it is and give us the true picture. I know that this island paradise will be just that once again. It will be as wonderful as the people who are working so hard to put it back together. Keep up the awesome work you do! Love City Strong!

  29. Hi Jenn, thank you for the updates. I was thinking about all the structures destroyed by both Cat5 hurricanes, and think it would be fantastic if structures were re-built using concrete walls spec’d to withstand 200 mph sustained winds, and roofs with hardly any overhangs to help prevent being torn off. Round structures help too. Has anyone talked about changing the way homes & structures are rebuilt? Just curious.

  30. Thank you for your constant updates Jenn ! For those of us who signed up at NVOAD have you heard of any updates regarding this ? Or as people are asking about Voluntourism ?? for those of us who are willing to come and help out. thank you
    Love city strong !!!!

  31. Uncle Joe’s is up and running… happy dance!! That made me smile along with the other good news. We will be there in December and hope to lend a hand.

  32. Thank you Jenn for your updates! I have St. John Spice webcam on my desktop to get me through until our trips down so you are doing a great service!
    Did the huge tree near the restaurant at Cinnamon Bay survive?
    Keep it coming & stay safe!!!!

  33. Thank you for your information. Is Our Market Smoothies okay? Have you or anyone heard from Roosevelt David from Best Car Rental?

  34. Our house is on Bordeaux above Coral Bay. Our major concern is restoration of power. Will you keep posting any current info. Is there any sign of stateside line crews and their equipment, new poles, etc.?

  35. Thanks for the updates, as a part time resident (Nov-May), I would love to hear about the following:
    1. Is there power restored to any part of the island. Are they working on it? Have the state side linemen and power workers shown up? Will power be back up by Christmas?
    2. Is there any news about AT&T restoring cell service on the island?
    3. Has there been progress on the debris pick up? Are there volunteers helping?
    4. Is there any news about the internet companies restoring internet service to the island?

  36. Jenn, you’ve done a great service to all displaced and others on the mainland. Always appreciative of you updates. Do you know if coal de pot survived the hurricane or has plans to reopen?

    • Thank you for your posts. Our rental agency said they don’t know the condition of the villa we rented above The Westin in Cruz Bay and they have an office on the island plus one in the states. I would love more communication on their FB page . It would help all of us eho have paid deposits or planned a trip there.

  37. I apologize if this is a duplicate post from someone else, but we received word today that Caneel Bay will NOT reopen for the *entire* 17/18 season. Looking at the NOAA aerial photos of damage inflicted on the property, I’m not surprised. It just breaks my heart to think of so many people put out of work, and so much beauty pulverized.

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