Sunday Update

I’m scared. Those are words I never thought I would write when referring to St. John. But I’m scared. We’re only four days into this mess, and we’re hearing some awful things. For starters, Joe’s Rum Hut was broken into the day after Irma hit. The ATM was stolen. They attempted to get cash out of the register, but it was empty as Joe’s closed for season earlier this month. The ATM next to Cruz Bay Landing was stolen. The ATM at the ferry dock was stolen. Scoops has been broken into. St. John Insurance has been broken into. They hold almost all of the insurance policies on this island. Makes you wonder the intentions of that burglary, doesn’t it? Dolphin Market in Coral Bay was looted the very first night. The very first night. We heard this morning that the Customs building in Cruz Bay was broken into and that guns were stolen. We heard that there was at least three robberies at gunpoint on Gifft Hill. This is not St. John anymore. I’m not sure what it is. What I do know is that I am scared. My friends are scared. And we don’t know what to do.

Last night I was able to go home. What I failed to mention was that we had to install a bar on the inside of our door so no one could break in. This is our new reality. Last night, for the first time since moving here, I was afraid to walk down the streets of Cruz Bay. And it was only 6:30 p.m. People are getting desperate, and desperate times call for desperate measures from some unfortunately. We are only on day four. What’s going to happen next?

I have seen absolutely no aid today except a few boxes of MREs walking down the street. I haven’t seen one helicopter land today. We hear help is on the way. Let’s hope so. We need the military. We need men and women guarding our streets with guns. Our police force does nothing. They sit in their cars and yell at people over the loudspeaker. I kid you not. They’re not even helping with traffic in areas where it’s needed. You know who is? Our homeless people. Our homeless people are directing traffic, and our police are not. Let that sink in for a minute. Several police officers can be seen constantly at Ronnie’s Pizza – our new cell phone spot – and they’re scrolling through Facebook rather than patrolling our streets. Im shocked they actually got out of their cars for that. I took pictures and I cannot wait until I have internet so I can share them with the world.

We need help. We need the United States government to step up. We need military. We need security. We all survived this monster storm. But will we survive the aftermath? No one knows. And that’s not me being dramatic at all. That, unfortunately, is the new reality of St. John. This is no longer paradise. This is no longer my happy place.

Please share this folks. Share away. Please get us help.


64 thoughts on “Sunday Update”

  1. I forwarded your blog to Robin Meade with CNN, who’s working with Kenny Chesney and his relief efforts——–HOPE IT HELPS——stay safe. You are our hero–please don’t give up.

  2. Jenn

    Stay strong. Your message reads exactly as what the people of New Orleans were struggling to get out in the days after Katrina. Destruction. Lawlessness. No communications. Where are family and friends? Where is the government? Have we been forgotten? WE need help!
    Very sadly, this is the scary beginning of the first phase (of multiple phases) in the long recovery process. But ask anyone from New Orleans, while they dearly miss their ‘old’ New Orleans, and no one will disagree that the city today is a much better place to live than it was before the storm. Just gotta keep the faith.
    Wish everyone on my favorite place/island in the world much love and peace. I will be doing all I can to help from my end.

  3. Jenn , Drew is so right ! When my wife lay dying in a coma I was filled with such hopelessness and helplessness !! But good always comes from bad , you will see ! Firemen run into the fire, soldiers into the hail of bullets Do not give up girl ! I do not even know you but I consider you one of my guiding lights ! Rob , Mickie and Arnie S also nailed it : I`LL BE BACK

  4. Stay safe Jenn. That is the most important thing right now. Use your skills and pray. I can only put myself in your place to some degree. You see, I went through Katrina in 2005 in Biloxi, MS. We were forgotten. News only focused on New Orleans. We had no water, no food and 90% of our family & friends had lost everything. It was like a war zone.

    The MS Coast story has never been told. There were dead bodies laying around. You just don’t think you can wake up one morning in the United States and this be real. The only thing worse would be, being on an Island like you are. We were cut off from any kind of service. No electricity for a month.
    It took a year to see green trees and shrubs again. Everything was dead from the saltwater. Casinos are the main form of income here and they were all gone. Washed away by 30 – 35 ft storm surge. I sat and wondered how I would pay my bills, buy food, etc.
    My point of telling you this is to give you hope. Find the good people and band together. Never give up if this is truly what you want. That’s how we, the Biloxi MIssissippi Gulf Coastians, made it. And the volunteers poured in to help this lil small city of ours and they came back for years to come and worked. We can never say thank you to all the volunteeries that made our home “home” again. Thank God the Casinos built back and 12 years later things are getting back to some normalcy.

    The American people will do the same for St John. Keep up the faith, be safe by staying smart until help can reach you and we will pray for you. The word is getting out!

  5. Jenn. This is more heartbreaking news but a different kind. In some ways worse. Your posts have been positive up to now even during the hurricane. This one is sadly not.

    Everyone that reads this post please share. It will help get the word out which is critical when there is no communication available on the island.

    In addition we all need to contact any and all government contacts we have in the US and USVI and ask questions and demand answers regarding the lack of military presence and the
    criticsl need for law and order! We need to be the voice for St. John right now.

    Call your U.S. Senator, your Congressman, St. John delegates to Congress in Washington DC (Google their name and phone #). Tell them what is happening. Tell them these are U.S. Citizens that need help and protection NOW.

    Keep calling them telling them you want to know what is being done to fix this situation. Don’t let up!

    Jenn please keep us all stateside up to date on what is happening and what is not. We will help as much as we can.

    Please stay strong. St. John will get through this.

    • Thank you! We love the people of St. John and the beauty of this special island. We too have been very upset that no attention was paid to St. John yet tons of coverage on how electricity was out to Floridians. I care much about the Floridians but want help for all who suffer in ISA!

      There are enough emergency staff and info to cover all needed. However it seemed there was no desire to help St. John and St. Thomas. We have been very upset until we saw your post.

      Thank you for caring about this special Island of St. John that the news and emergency services ignored! We are grateful for you. People need reminding they are
      ARE part of the USA!

      A BIG THANK YOU for pushing the need!!! Sounds like help is on its way!!!

  6. I’ve been reading your blog each day. It was the only news we could find on the aftermath of Irma on St. John. We were worried about our friend Lucy on Gifft Hill. We finally heard she was OK from her brother who heard from one of her friends there.

    I shared what I had learned about your plight at our little rural church in Virginia this morning & we prayed for you as well as those in Florida’s hurricane path. I got choked up bringing it up. St. John is such a special place with beautiful people.

    Most people know the “vacation” side of St. John & don’t realize some of the normal day to day struggles it takes to live in a place like St. John with fragile infrastructure that we take for granted on the mainland. I can’t imagine how difficult this must be for you all. It may not sound like much saying that there are people praying for you, but know that people are. Take care. Try to find a small blessing each day to get you through until Love City returns.

  7. Jenn,

    If resupply doesn’t come soon, there is a chance things may get worse.
    The people who have nothing probably won’t be a problem. They are used to having nothing.
    People of means won’t be either. They will bide their time until life resumes.
    A small percentage of people who have, no – had – a few things will be the majority of the troublemakers. These are able-bodied people who have lost their possessions, status, jobs, and prospects.
    It’ll start with burglary and looting. Emboldened that they got away with that, it will graduate to assault and robbery. Next, who knows?
    Civilization is just a veneer, a mile wide and an inch thick. Shatter that veneer, and what have you got? You’re finding out.
    Until a stabilizing force arrives, don’t go anywhere alone. Stay in after dark, secure your property and be alert.
    All y’all will be in my prayers.

    Keep safe,


  8. Jenn:
    We got you. We are a contingent of people in NYC that are spreading the word fast about how things have changed/are going in STJ. We are all emailing our senators and reps, posting on Facebook and insta, contacting anyone and everyone we know to get you guys some protection, order, assistance and help. We are getting on the phones tomorrow with phone calls.
    Keep the info coming, we got you.
    Please stay safe. Keep blogging.


    • Hi Mary,

      I’m in NYC too, can you share the information of who you are contacting with me? I’ll call too. We need as many calls as we can.


  9. I’m sorry, I’m not gonna pray. This is insane. I’m gonna call the governor, the representatives, and anyone else I can find who will pick up. We need PEOPLE to help NOW – stop just “hoping”, start ACTING! Prayer is fine, but isn’t ENOUGH. It takes money, hands, and backs to rebuild a community.

    The other day Fox decided to make the gun confiscation question a political 2nd Amendment issue when interviewing the Governor; meanwhile they virtually ignored the damage is done, and afterward they slink back to their rich suburban communities. They don’t seem to care about what is happening to the people who make these islands great, wonderful, and welcoming. It is a blight on all of us, that the regime seems to pay so little attention – maybe “only” ~6000 isn’t enough to warrant any effort. Maybe because these are “territories” don’t have a lot of political power, so they can be ignored. I am glad that the Coast Guard has diverted resources to the islands, that Chesney has ponied up supplies and offered to match donations for the recovery, and that Royal Caribbean is planning to send ships to get people off the islands to are in serious need of transport. I hope their efforts bear fruit for the beleaguered residents.

    It may be too early, but I think mobilizing a volunteer brigade from the States is in order – people who can help pitch into to clean up, and recover. Is there a consensus on this? If there is, we need people to follow-through and step up to the challenge. It will be ugly, dirty, hot, humid, but ultimately rewarding in that we’ve worked to give back to the community we love. What say you, good people?

    • I think you need a stateside organizer working with someone one the ground in ST J so when u get there you can be placed exactly where your needed.

    • Kevin – Right on …. “I’m sorry, I’m not gonna pray. This is insane. I’m gonna call the governor, the representatives, and anyone else I can find who will pick up. We need PEOPLE to help NOW – stop just “hoping”, start ACTING! Prayer is fine, but isn’t ENOUGH. It takes money, hands, and backs to rebuild a community. ”

      Emailed my State of Washington senators to pay attention to USVI even as my state burns. Sent money via the Virgin website to the BVI as well as US Redcross for USVI.

      These are my favorite places in the world and I just want to feel like I’ve actually helped not “praying” to help

  10. Jenn, sorry you feel scared and like the help is too slow. Believe me, there is literally tons of supplies being flown to STX. There are only a few boats which survived so that may be the bottleneck. There are police coming from NYC, navy and marines there or on the way.

    The men on STJ need to protect women and children from the punk looters if the police are ineffective The government of the USVI also. The Federal Government can also send support if needed. If the police are not helping and you do not see other troops by Monday, let us know. Relying on the Government for anything is frustrating.

  11. Just shared your story on Twitter and tagged the national guard, fema, etc…

    Any word on the health and safety of the folks at Concordia Eco Resorts (near Ram’s Head) or Stanley (a.k.a. Maho Campground guy)?

  12. All these efforts are great!

    I have been reaching out to reporters and several national media are now interested. Please send updates on the situation on STJ as they develop and we will try to get them in touch with the right people on Island. If we can get attention maybe we can accelerate getting the help and civil authorities needed.

    • Can you pass along the name(s) of the reporters or their news outlets?

      I think the comments above and below about twitter are great ideas – get law enforcement’s attention!

      Sadly, the USVIs are not a significant block of voters, so politicians are doing a big yawn right now. With the US Southeast getting hammered as well, I don’t expect much from the Feds – resources are stretched very thin now, and it will only get worse once the total impact of Irma is known.

  13. We love St John and will do what we can to assist in rebuilding. Kevin please keep us posted on gathering a volunteer group! Please keep blogging so we can continue to spread the news.

    • I will start doing some outreach tomorrow – I’m in Alabama, and Irma is coming through here as well! I’ll always update to the most recent NoSJ blog post, just to keep things current.

  14. Please hang in there sweet Jenn, know that God is firmly with you, know that you are helping others in the midst of this turmoil, even if you can’t see it now….
    Most of all know that you are not alone….
    Our stateside hearts and spirits are with you, praying for your safety and wellbeing, and everyone else there too….
    God is with you…. God is with St John…
    Hold on to that tightly…….
    We will continue to fight for you stateside without ceasing….

    Stay safe , and careful…..and know that you are not alone….

  15. We are praying for you from Seattle! We are also sharing your story like crazy. You made the front page of reddit’s hurricane Irma thread. So you ARE being seen! You will keep on being seen. You are NOT forgotten. People care. Bind together and hunker down together with those you can trust.

  16. Saint John’s might be a total shithole, but the few decent people there deserve the government’s attention. The Virgin Islands are a part of the US as well the last time that I checked, but you would not guess it by the news coverage that they have received!

  17. We are deluding ourselves if we don’t acknowledge this account. St. John has always been compicated, and has gotten much more so in recent times.

  18. Jenn, sharing on FBI, as are the prior posters! so many people are praying for you! I know that sounds like desperation but you aren’t alone. Do what you must to protect yourself.

    We love you & St John.

  19. Somebody musty have a dingy. This is not Gilligans island! There has to be someone whom can patch a rowboat or any boat and get to Saint Thomas? or St Croix? to be safe. When will the ferry barges be back up and running?

    • I’m sure that the ferries are suffering just like everyone else – contaminated fuel supplies, damaged ships, no power, no communications (so no way to take payments other than cash – and that is risky too) – all of these things conspire to complicate the effort to get ferry service back online. Couple that with the obvious lack of civil protection, and it’s not going to be any time soon.

      Looting and robbery are rampant in the Lesser Antilles, as food supplies dwindle and certain people take advantage of the lack of law enforcement to use the threat of violence to steal from individuals. Governments are slow to respond, hampered by distance and Jose.

      I worry for the residents of the USVI, because elsewhere the descent into anarchy is happening just too fast to be believed, and it could easily get worse once supplies begin to draw down.

    • Rowing a dinghy between St John and St Thomas isn’t going to be easy even if you are a strong rower, to row to St Croix is ridiculous. But then you’re just jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. St Thomas isn’t any better right now, unless you’ve got a big gun and plenty of ammo. But without a safe place to sleep you’re another target after the storm.

  20. Cannot even imagine what a difficult time this is for you and all affected by the hurricane. My sister-in-law lived on St. John. Have lost touch with her. While I know this is not the time to ask, however would appreciate anything you may know about her, if anything. Her name is Jayne Meadow. Hope you are staying safe!!!!

  21. Hang in there. I know that it is rough. It is hard to see and experience what you are going through. Especially since this is the USA where we think these things can’t happen. But what you are seeing is what happens when the comforts and securities, that keep our society civil, are taken away. What you are experiencing is what people will do when push comes to shove. Times like this, until support comes to assist and get things back to normal, you just have to be careful, protect yourself and be street smart.

  22. Jenn

    You have lived through, and continue to experience, traumatic events and overwhelming loss. it makes sense for you to feel scared, sad, overwhelmed, angry and hopeless at times. However, it is important for you not to become mired in those feelings because that will shut you down and you need to continue to be pro-active You have demonstrated through your posts that you are smart, resilient and brave. Play to your strengths. BE SAFE – Stay connected to others and remember that there is strength in numbers. Know that you make a great difference by keeping us informed because there are many of us on this end who continue to spread the word to the world. Thank you for your courage and efforts to help your fellow islanders.
    I will return to St John and I hope to be able to thank you in person when I do.

  23. This is very distressing, Jenn. While a disaster brings out the best in some people, in others it brings out the worst. Like you, I’d like to think that St. John is better than anywhere else, it’s sad to encounter the reality, but I still believe in the good of the people of St. John. True, the Cruz Bay merchants could have prepared by hiring security for the immediate aftermath, but those trying to exploit the situation might have then focused more on private residences, putting more people at risk. As to St. John Insurance, I suspect that duplicate records of all policies exist, both in electronic form and also, because St. John Insurers are brokers, with the issuers of the underlying policies. The police need to hear your voice and to be more responsive – not only to catch the vandals but to make people more confident that lawlessness will not prevail. It pains me beyond belief to see the trauma you and others are experiencing – I only hope that you’ll experience a healing that will restore your faith in others, bring people closer together, and appreciate more deeply what this crazy thing called life is about.

  24. Jenn-word is getting out. This was in the Washington Post:

    On St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, “people there are roaming like zombies,” said Stacey Alvarado, a bar owner who managed to leave for the mainland. Her husband, who is still there, told her Sunday that residents and tourists are in shock. “They don’t know what to do. The island was wiped out. It’s like the walking dead down there.” Other islanders sent social media messages pleading for help, decrying looting and a series of armed burglaries.

    “We need help,” wrote St. John blogger Jenn Manes. “We need the United States government to step up. We need military. We need security.”

  25. Regarding the looters: As a student of human nature (and the owner of an I’m sure now defunct cottage in STJ) All I can say is this: There are people everywhere of all nationalities, races and socioeconomic standing who see this kind of disaster as an opportunity to line their own pockets. They are thankfully a minority but the damage they inflict is great. Whether they are looting, stealing a gunpoint or siphoning off FEMA money to pay for their vacations, After 9/11 (16 years ago today) There were many people who filed false insurance, disability claims. These people are truly deplorable.

  26. Stay strong Jenn. I’ve been to St John for many an 8 tuff and will be back, regardless. The word is out, St John and its people are Americas treasure and should be treated as such. Love from Chicago!!

  27. Information taken from a post on Government House page. Evacuation information for St. Thomas and St. John.

    Karyn Herrmann Today’s 9/11/17 Evacuation Schedule.. island family spread the word ❤️
    Island Flyer (40 pax): 9-10am, Cruz Bay to PR
    Caribe Spirit (70 pax): 9-10am, Cruz Bay to PR
    Bad girl (24 pax): 12pm, Coral Bay to STX
    Betty Ann (36pax): 12:30-2pm, Cruz Bay to STX
    Milemark (36pax): 12:30-2pm, Cruz Bay to STX
    Adventurer* (~40 pax): 2:30-3:00pm, Coral Bay to STX
    *Note: Adventurer is a maybe
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
    Karyn Herrmann
    Karyn Herrmann They are evacuating for free. Meghan Enright is the person to contact in Cruz Bay, St John
    Like · Reply · 54 mins

  28. We are trying to get back asap. Please keep us updated when we can find a way to get on island (ferry, seaplane, any form of transport) we live in Coral Bay and we have been told Centerline is passable? Bringing supplies and anything we can!

  29. D-Jenn,

    With with Wash-Post notice of your blog, you are getting wide exposure.

    Pls be advised of FEMA news at:

    Apparently, it takes 3 to 5 days, to re-establish airports / base of operations.

    Friends of USVI are scouring the web for information, after seeing the devastating images. Pls continue your blog, as our major news sources are focused on US States, and not US territories.

    Friends of Caneel Bay has started a fund sites for the empolyees. There are likely other site sites these.

    Good luck / keep informing us about USVI

  30. My statement will be harsh. My family has been on St. John for 50+ years and this situation is deplorable.

    For a population of 5,000 the situation on St. John is pathetic and a disgrace for the VI government. Where is the VI National Guard? Under the leadership of Governor Kenneth Mapp whose salary is $150,000, oversees a population of 100,000 +/- people, really showed off his lack of leadership over the past week.

    Send federal aid? It will get stolen and misappropriated before money will benefit the people of the VI’s. Think about it, the clinic can’t even keep a supply of blankets for patients. They are stolen before they are used.

    The Fed’s will send supplies, water, food and medicine but now St. John now has a lawless society; stolen guns, empty ATM machines and disparate people. The local police can’t even control crime without a hurricane.

    St. John is truly probably one of the most beautiful places on this earth and St. Johnians are some of the kindest people I’ve ever had the privilege to meet.

    Yes, the hurricane was terrible, but the fact the Government can’t address the basic needs of its people is pitiful. Besides disaster relief, what we really need is a clean sweep of the Government and finally get some honest people in control who really care.

  31. I am so sorry to hear about the desperate situation of St. John residents. I love the island and return whenever I can afford to go, and you have all been in my thoughts since the hurricane hit. I have seen an increase in media coverage for the USVI in the last day or so, and I hope the stories continue to appear. I have just written to Senator Bob Casey here in PA to ask if any National Guardsmen can be deployed to help those in the US Virgin Islands (thanks to Homer Hickam for the idea). Know that you are not forgotten!

  32. I just called and and emailed my two senators and asked them to do what they can to bring attention and aid to your plight. I know it’s not a solution but it might help if enough people contact their senators and ask them to bring attention and press for mor aid. I pasted in Jen’s last post in the emails I sent.

  33. I’m not surprised by this. I visited St. John a few years ago. It was a beautiful place. Honestly, the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. The people however just seemed ugly on the inside. Like a den of wolves. I never really felt safe there. People don’t change. Natural disasters just scrub off what little veneer of civility there was before.

    I would suggest you leave ASAP.

  34. Please show us the way Jackie. You are the perfect example of why the internet is bad. It gives a voice to people who should not have one.

  35. President Trump Approves Additional Disaster Declarations
    Yesterday, President Trump amended the U.S. Virgin Islands Disaster Declaration and authorized an increase in the level of Federal funding for debris removal and emergency protective measures undertaken as a result of Hurricane Irma. The President also declared that a major disaster exists in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the State of Florida, and ordered Federal aid to supplement recovery efforts.

    FEMA Resources
    Residents and business owners who sustained losses in designated counties can begin applying for assistance by registering online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

Leave a Comment