On September 19, 2017 St Croix was hit by a category 5 hurricane. For those of us living on St Croix, our lives changed drastically and it may be some time before life returns to normal.
The South shore and the West End were damaged the most severely, but all over the island friends and neighbors lost their roofs and we all lost power. In the Virgin Islands, without power, most of us are also without running water to shower or flush the toilet. Power lines and poles were down all over the island as well as trees and bushes.
Those fortunate enough to have a portable generator may be able to keep food semi-cold but most of us are using ice in coolers to keep a limited supply of food/beverages. Generators are turned off at night so people can sleep without the noise and smell but that means trying to sleep in very hot humid weather without a fan, and some nights without a breeze. As time goes on without power, and without a good night's sleep, we are getting tired and this is a time when you need to be alert and focused to drive our roads, many of which have power lines and downed poles; very large pot holes; and no working traffic lights!
Cell phone service is spotty and non existent at times. Internet service is even more limited.
Our offices are not open yet both due to the lack of power and now to the growing mold that is taking over in damp offices with no air movement. Our parking lot is blocked by downed lines and telephone poles. We are on the first floor and the office upstairs took on a lot of water when the windows blew out. That water came through the floor upstairs and down through our ceiling. Saturated ceiling tiles were and continue to be removed.
WHAT WE'VE BEEN DOING POST-HURRICANE MARIA AND HOW YOU CAN HELP US
Leading up to Maria on Monday September 18 and Tuesday September 19 we were in contact with: each of the seven foster parents who are taking care of kids assigned to our program; the Director at Queen Louise Home; and the staff at Virgin Islands Behavioral Services. As soon as we had cell phone service after the storm we began reaching out to these same folks to see how they fared during the storm. Most reported that the kids slept through this terrifying experience thank God. One foster parent lost the roof and everybody took on a lot of water that had to be cleaned up.
Of particular concern was that foster parents had not received their September (and later their October, November, or December) foster care checks on time. This left our children more vulnerable, in homes with limited income at a time when cash was a necessity. You needed cash for ice to keep food cold; for generator fuel; for laundromats; for cleaning supplies, and even for rent as the month went on. Efforts were made to contact the Department of Human Services to secure these funds for our families but our requests seemed to fall on deaf ears until we secured the assistance of Senator Nellie O'Reilly. With her assistance we finally saw September checks issued in late October and the October check the last week of November. We are still in the dark as to when November and Decmeber checks will be distributed...
While working to get the checks issued we knew we just had to jump in and HELP whether we were ready with a budget or not!
We bought basic groceries, hygiene products and paper products to give to the seven families along with spending money to get them through. As we create this page we are securing supplies stateside which are not currently available on island: battery operated fans; battery operated lanterns; solar camp showers; mosquito repellant; rechargeable cell phone batteries; and D Cell batteries!
We've spent thousands of dollars supporting foster families with food, paper supplies, hygiene supplies, batteries and fans and lanterns, and even cash to buy the essentials....
Will you HELP us?