We just received the following email from Celia, the direct of the St. John Community Foundation:
“Many Islands. One Love” A few short and intermittent Satellite phone calls and posts have come in this morning after Maria passed south of St. John and made landfall in Puerto Rico at 6:15 this morning. The 11:11 AM VITEMA Alert reported steady strong winds up to from 35 with gusts up to 50 mph for the next few hours in STT/STJ. As expected there was, and continues to be, showers and scattered thunderstorms with flooding in guts and low lying areas. Storm surge reportedly left most of the barges on STJ inoperable. Residents are asked to stay inside while the 1st responders clear the roads and assist where needed. Supplies were topped off before Maria, military and emergency responders are being redeployed, and communications are expected to resume in a slow but progressive manner. More news as connectivity improves.
We are getting many generous offers from people who want to come to the island to help in the recovery efforts. However, right now the few accommodations left intact are prioritized for displaced residents and federal disaster responders, who are also priority recipients of limited supplies of food, water, gasoline, etc. Please know that many aspects of this recovery will take weeks, months and even years ….and we WILL need you. Register online here. 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.
Persons interested in helping Hurricane Irma/Maria disaster response in St. John can 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 – http://thestjohnfoundation.org/donate – 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.
The amazing St. Johnians who have self-organized and taken it upon themselves to help each other continue to be nothing less than awe-inspiring! We are creating an inventory to share with the stateside Adopt-A-Family program for St. John families and will share details as it comes together; this kind of support will be needed for months and we would eventually like to hook you up directly with these families so you can maintain a more long-term connection with them. Until we are able to ensure efficient mail delivery, and communications are improved, we gratefully rely on federal responders and bulk deliveries of supplies from private entities to sustain immediate needs.
We will be back in response mode for the next several days, while at the same time continue to focus on long term recovery with experienced partners who have bounced back themselves after similar disasters. Support coming in now will help us revive and rebuild in what is going to be a long road ahead.
To make a donation to the Foundation for St. John IRMA-MARIA relief efforts (PayPal is waiving all fees) go to http://thestjohnfoundation.org/donate