Save Coral Bay: Hurricane Irma Update

Excellent post-Irma update from the Save Coral Bay organization:

Post-Irma Update 1

It has been just over one month since our island home was devastated by one of the most intense hurricanes in Caribbean history. I am sure you’ve all seen and heard of the extensive destruction to infrastructure, homes, and the environment wrought by Irma. And to add insult to injury, just two weeks later, Maria brought hurricane force winds to St John for hours on end, while decimating our sister islands of St Croix and Puerto Rico.

We woke up on September 7, 2017, to a changed Coral Bay. Houses had literally disappeared. Boats were strewn along the shores of Coral Bay Harbor and Hurricane Hole. People walked the roads in a state of shock checking on the safety of their friends and neighbors.

A month has passed. I’ve spent virtually all of that time securing my home, repairing the most critical damage, helping my friends, and seeking and providing comfort from and to the community of Coral Bay. It hasn’t been easy, but we didn’t choose to live in Coral Bay for ease of life. We chose Coral Bay because it was, and is, a unique and priceless treasure.
I am writing today to assure those who have supported Save Coral Bay over the years that our mission and our resolve remains unwavering. Although we have all been bruised, battered, and in some cases beaten, we need to look over the horizon at a point a year or two away when things have returned to a new normal, and focus now on what needs to be done to ensure that Coral Bay is redeveloped consistent with the vision of those who live here.

These points define my focus for Save Coral Bay over the coming months:

1. The mission of Save Coral Bay remains the same, to protect this special place so that its unique natural beauty may be enjoyed by future generations.

2. The risk of over development in Coral Bay remains, and the prospect of unscrupulous developers seeing an opportunity to leverage the community’s losses into their personal gains are greater now than ever.

3. We must remain vigilant and dedicated to protecting the future of Coral Bay. As incongruous as it may seem in the midst of this devastation, we will continue to pursue our advocacy for environmentally sound projects with the Army Corps regulatory division, with Coastal Zone Management, and with local government.

4. Recovery efforts are best handled by the agencies with the resources to make a real impact – FEMA, Army Corps, and territorial agencies – but Save Coral Bay will look for opportunities to assist when and where appropriate. Protection of the shoreline remains a priority.

People have asked about the future of Coral Bay given the extraordinary impact of these storms. In the short term, there will undoubtedly be significant changes to the people, the places and the environment which define Coral Bay.

Every storm erases some of the past, uncovering some of what was hidden, opening opportunities for the future. One of our Coral Bay elders said to me “we were due for a cleansing – look at the bright new growth emerging in the forest – this is regeneration.” Another person spoke to me as he looked out over the hillsides and said he had lived on St John his entire life, but was now seeing things that he had never seen before.

I expect at least a year of physical recovery – infrastructure, roads, businesses, critical home repairs, followed by several years of renovation and restoration.

The Coral Bay community is stronger than ever. The commitment to rebuild and reestablish the quality of life which we all cherish is indomitable.

Businesses in Coral Bay are rebuilding and opening – Indigo Grill, Wok on the Beach, Pizza Bar in Paradise, Oasis, Pickles, Skinny Legs, Connections, Windspree, Calabash Market, Love City Market – with tangible progress being made every day. Music is happening in Coral Bay – Indigo has hosted at least two open sessions with local musicians, generator power, cold beer, and LOTS of smiling, dancing, loving Coral Bayians.

The hillsides are getting greener every day. Flowers are blooming. Unfortunately insects are blooming as well, but that’s all part of the cycle. I will miss seeing some of my favorite trees and I don’t know when beaches and hiking trails will be reopened, but I do know it will happen. New vistas will replace familiar ones. Every void is an opportunity to create something new.

The human toll is difficult to measure. Everyone who lived through Irma experienced some degree of shock and trauma. Those who were away and returned later experienced a cognitive disconnect between what they remembered and what they now see. Each of us deals in our own way with these psychological impacts. Some have left the island. We will miss them. Some don’t know if they have the strength to stay. What I do know is that the core of the Coral Bay community is stronger than ever before. We are supporting one another and sharing the love that makes this such a special place.

As recovery progresses I will try to keep you all updated on the highlights. I won’t be focusing on the negatives. Our mission is to Save Coral Bay for future generations and that is what I intend to put my energy into achieving.

Blessings to each and every one of you.
David

Advertisements

Mail Update from Connections Cruz Bay

connections-building

10-14-2017 update
Connections (Cruz Bay) 
Is currently open 9am-3pm Mon-Fri & Sat from 9am – 1pm.
St John now getting letters & packages – post “IrMaria” (as we refer to hurricanes Irma & Maria). Connections in Cruz Bay is getting some emails & internet – though still spotty.  Please let us know if you left StJ & what to do with your mail. Our email address is stjohnconnections@gmail.com.  We cannot offer storage of packages as those of us who are here will now be getting care packages from family and friends. Let us know who you want to pick up your mail & packages.  The Post Office in Cruz Bay will not take any packages to be forwarded or returned to sender – and no idea when that might change.
Meanwhile, Love City Lives!

Irma Recovery Update from the St. John Community Foundation

10-4-17: SJCF-VOAD Mid-Week Update:
As the island has shifted from Emergency Response to Recovery mode, and more news is getting out of St. John, our communications will shift from daily updates to a weekly recap/forecast of basic services, while continuing to share vital updates and information on our Facebook page. We will focus on developing and facilitating collaborations for short and long term recovery efforts with local and stateside partners on behalf of the St. John Community.

Communication, Power and Security: Equipment issues on STT and STX have impaired some internet connections on St. John, however, there are several WiFi hotspots in town with service extending to the south side soon. There are spots near Ronnie’s Pizza, Connections, between the BMV building and the tennis court, and on the 3rd floor of the Marketplace. Look for VINGN-Free Public. No password is needed. To prevent slow WiFi speed, please disable automatic app updates on your phone. WAPA’s goal is to have power up in Cruz Bay to MK Clinic in two weeks, and to create a mini grid for interim/temporarily power to Coral Bay until full power can be achieved. An antenna is being installed at the Coral Bay fire station to improve communications between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay fire departments. Law enforcement continues to patrol both sides of the island 24 hours a day, and are experiencing good communications across the island.

Transportation: The curfew is officially from 7pm to 6am, and there have been no conflicts or incidents reported in relation to this. Passenger ferry hours are 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 3, 5 daily, schedule subject to change. The car barge has 3-4 trips daily; only one barge is currently operational. Speak directly to barge operators regarding daily schedule. The Coast Guard has not opened the original car barge location because the channel is blocked. Shipping companies such as Tropical and Merchants are running, however, expect delays in containers to private citizens and to businesses. Call the USVI Department of Tourism directly for information on mercy flights/cruises yet to be scheduled at 340-772-0357. The Bloomberg group is supplying fuel and drivers are donating their time for a free shuttle service between Cruz Bay ferry dock and Coral Bay fire department; two 19 passenger shuttles with pick up and drop off at 8, 9, 10 AM and 3, 4, 5PM…The airport on St. Thomas is open for business. Call individual airlines for their schedules, which are changing daily.

Mass Care, Housing, Human Services: Bethany Moravian Church Shelter is operational with approximately 14 people staying overnight. The Red Cross continues to distribute water and clean-up kits, and supports over 2,000 meals daily. Cruz Bay Landing will continue to serve Red Cross supported meals through October 11; Longboard through October 17; 420 to Center in Cruz Bay and Indigo Grill in Coral Bay have been and continue to serve meals on their own; St. John Community Foundation is working on supplementing/supporting food service in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay with details to come in next week’s update. The Coral Bay fire station is distributing rations 10-3 daily; distribution at JESS ball field form 12-3 daily. The Chesney foundation is conducting weekly evacuations according to need.

Health Care and advisories: The Chesney group reported that the clinics have received $500,000 in supplies to date. DeCastro clinic is seeing approximately 20-25 patients in Cruz Bay daily; The fire station receives about 15 patients daily. Many cases are related to people stepping on nails; proper protective footwear is encouraged. The US Public Health Service is augmenting medical service from local, John’s Hopkins and DMAT professional with trained grief and trauma counselors at the DeCastro clinic and the Coral Bay Fire Station. The New Jersesy Emergency Medical Service Task Force, a team of 11, have arrived as support. Mental health providers are helping the island heal emotionally and to manage stress effectively. They are conducting grief counseling and interventions, as well as, offering stress management tips and tools for dealing with the disaster. In a recent press conference, Police Commissioner Delroy Richards referred to incidents and arrests relating to domestic violence, and urged people seek counseling, and not to stay in a violent situation. The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a–year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to this or any disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
The National Park is advising residents to not swim in the ocean at this time. DPNR has not yet tested the waters and there is no established timeline for inspection as of yet. Swim at your own risk.

Debris Removal, Sanitation and Trash: Public Works’ current priority is trash and roadside debris removal. The Upper Carolina landslide is currently being cleared. Otherwise, roads are currently open and clear. The transfer station is closed today and will reopen on Friday, however, commercial sector is encouraged to take their bins to STT and the public is instructed to put only household waste in the bins (not landscape or construction materials), and reminded that burning debris has been prohibited in the territory. The Army Corp of Engineers will move forward with their debris mission, and the Chesney group has organized local workforce crews to work with the DIRT team.

Youth – School and Recreation: Gov Mapp is still hoping for STT/STX schools to open on October 9th, however, there is no definitive opening date for JESS as contractors fix the roof. Gift Hill School is in session from 10a-2p Mon. thru Fri. 125 are students enrolled and new student assessments are still being conducted; due to space constraints, there is a hold on admitting new students to preschool and grades 4 – 5. Parents can register their children between 8:30-9:30am or 3-4pm, they must have proof of current shots, physical exam records, and be willing complete a short interview and screening process. Volunteers are still needed at the upper campus. The Chesney group has (and continues) to make repairs the St. John Christian Academy, Gift Hill and Sprauve schools.

Business and Employment: Commissioner Catherine A. Hendry announced at the territory’s daily news conference, that all of those who are self-employed or are independent contractors and have had their ability to work disrupted by Hurricane Irma can apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. The period for those affected to apply ends Oct. 30. The USVI Dept of Labor is available 10a-2p, Mon, Wed, Fri at the STJ Legislature Building for unemployment questions. Bring your ID, Social Security Card, and a Statement of Unemployment letter.

First Bank Cruz Bay branch service from 9:30a-12:30p and ATM service from 9a-3p. The post office can take mail and packages that are fully prepared for shipping. Post office hours are 10-2. They do not currently have the resources to assist with postage, weight, measurements, etc. Open for business: Groceries: Starfish Market is open 9am-3pm, hopes to begin taking credit and is expecting delivery of provisions. Neither Coral Bay grocery store has a generator and therefore are not operational. Starfish Market, Dolphin Market, St. John Market, Pine Peace Market. Chelsea Drug, RHFP health clinic at the Marketplace, Canines Cats and Critters, St. John Insurance, Tunick Insurance, St. John Properties, Connections, St. John Hardware, Paradise Lumber, St. John Ice, E&C Service Station, Caravan Auto, Steve Simonson Photo, Papaya Cafe, Sun Dog Cafe, Chester’s Getaway, Hercules, and Calabash Market and Love City Market in Coral Bay are operational. Monsanto laundry had 3 washers and is working to get a larger generator at this time.

For a more complete listing of Businesses open on all islands go to DIRECTORY LINK: https://docs.google.com/…/1oCyqZ7hICfRsoSbgij4dPevqLY…/edit… Businesses are encouraged to go to the USVI Business Community Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/USVIbusinesscommunitystjohn/ To be included, please follow our host’s directions to Businesses/Organizations ON ISLAND: PLEASE request group membership and directly post your information: Name of Business, Location, Contact Information, Description of Services/Items available, Time Sensitive information regarding services or hours of operations, Methods of payment accepted., If items are available for purchase or offered FREE. You will receive a “post pending message and they will respond within 24 hours.

Home Assessment and Repair: Bloomberg team members are conducting door-to-door assessments and have exceeded expectations for gathering household data. 200 people on the island have linked to disaster assistance benefits. The Blue Roof program via Army Corp of Engineers is stationed at both Connections and the Coral Bay fire station, 9am-3pm. Call 888-roof-blu, or go to http://www.sad.usace.army.mil/blueroof for more information. 800-621-fema or disasterassistance.gov and DSA personnel are on-hand at the National Park gazebo and the Coral Bay fire station. The VIPD and NY State Troopers advise all citizens that as FEMA and other agencies survey and assess, they should have credentials and provide them for you if you ask. This also extends to private contractors working for these agencies.

Legal Services: Disaster Legal Services (DLS) provides legal assistance to low-income individuals who, prior to or because of the disaster, are unable to secure adequate legal services to meet their disaster related needs. The following are types of disaster legal assistance that may be available to you: Help with insurance claims for doctor and hospital bill, loss of property, loss of life, etc. • Drawing up new wills and other legal papers lost in the disaster • Help with home repair contracts and contractors • Advice on problems with landlords. For more information go to https://www.disasterlegalaid.org/

Volunteers and Donations: We are getting many generous offers from people who want to come to the island to help in the recovery efforts. However, volunteers are asked not to self-deploy; 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 at https://voad.communityos.org/volunteer-registration-usvi-irma … once registered, email celia@sjcf.org and 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 can best support the relief effort by making a cash donation instead of sending donated goods and services. Cash donations to voluntary disaster relief organizations enables them to purchase exactly what is most needed – whereas donated items require voluntary agencies to spend money and considerable time for sorting, inventorying, warehousing, and distribution.

To make a donation to the Foundation for St. John IRMA relief efforts go to http://thestjohnfoundation.org/donate

Mail Service to the Caribbean

Caribbean Mail Service for Puerto Rico, St. Thomas,
St. John, St. Croix, Culebra and Vieques areas

usps_about_logo
Last updated Sept. 27, 2017, 8 a.m. ET

St. John
Cruz Bay, St John, 00830 customers can pick up packages and mail from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

St. Thomas
Offices open for mail and package pickup, with hours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.:
East End/Tutu Mall for addresses in ZIP Code 00805.
Havensight for PO Box customers in ZIP Code 00802 and Emancipation Gardens customers in 00804. Havensight will be open for retail services effective Sept. 27, 2017, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Charlotte Amalie will provide mail handout service for ZIP Codes 00801, 00803, 00805 and street addresses ending in 00802.

St. Croix
Post Offices remain closed.

There will be no retail services and package or mail pickup at any location in 006-009 except for the locations listed above.

Puerto Rico
The following offices will be open for PO Box mail and package pickup services from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.:
San Juan Main
Bayamon Main Branch
Mayaguez Main Branch
Marina Station
Carolina Main
Carolina – Pueblo Station
Santurce Post Office
Cayey Post Office
Carriers will be available to hand out mail for customers that receive street delivery, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

USPS is not accepting Priority Mail Express service or shipment of live animals for the following ZIP Codes: 006, 007, 008 and 009.

There will be no Priority Mail Express service or shipment of live animals in Puerto Rico due to the hurricane.

Retail services and package or mail pickup are not available on the following islands:
St. Croix, 008.
Culebra, 00775.
Vieques, 00765.

Check for Service alerts

Click here http://about.usps.com/news/service-alerts/resident-open.htm and  then click on Hurricane Maria

NYC (Quest)Love for Love City

NYC Fundraiser for St. John Rescue featuring Questlove

A fundraiser at the Brooklyn Bowl in NYC this weekend benefitted St. John Rescue.

Thanks to DJ Questlove (from The Roots and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon) who presided over the music for SIX HOURS at the Brooklyn Bowl in NYC this weekend to raise money for Hurricane Irma relief on St. John.

DJ Questlove presided over the music at an NYC dance party fundraiser for St. John.

DJ Questlove presided over the music at an NYC dance party fundraiser for St. John.

The fundraiser was open to all ages (seriously, the bouncers were joking they were valet-parking the strollers…) and let me tell you, some six-year-olds can do a mean limbo. And if they didn’t appreciate the classic Soul Train videos projected on screen as the dance music played on and on (and on), their parents (or grandparents) surely did. Admission was free with all donations going to St. John Rescue.

If you missed the party, you can donate to St. John Rescue online.

Thanks to everyone for their love and tireless support of Love City.

Questlove dance party for St. John Rescue

Recovery and Good News for St John

Thank you to Celia and the St. John Community Foundation, News of St John, St John Source, viconsortium and all who are working hard to get information out there to you.

Food distribution from noon-3pm at JESS ballfield and at the Fire Station in Coral Bay. Cruz Bay Landing, Longboard supported by Red Cross to serve up to 1,000 meals per day; 420, Indigo Grill, Dog House and others providing supportive service.

The Westin and Caneel both have potable water.

Commercial flights will begin at the Cyrile E. King Airport on Thursday 9/28/2017. Jetblue, American Airlines, Delta and possibly United Airlines, will all resume paid flights (not mercy trips) to and from the territory. The governor said interested persons should contact the airlines for more information. Flights begin as early as 9:30 a.m., and the airlines are asking passengers to be at the airport four hours before takeoff. Customs clearance will be done at the passenger’s destination, as some functionality at the St.Thomas airport remain suspended because of damage the facility sustained from Hurricane Irma. V.I.P.D. officers have been notified that persons will be leaving the territory, and should therefor not be barred — once proof is ascertained — from heading to the airport during curfew hours.

The government is aiming to reopen the St. Croix airport sometime next week, with a solid date to be divulged in an upcoming press conference.

E&C gas is open; NPS dock opens from 8-12 for response workers and at noon for the general public.

The ferries and car barge are running, but on a limited schedule.

First Bank open

Mail service resumed

Bruce Twyon, owner of Southern Hospitality, picked up 25 NY State Troopers and assisted with transporting personnel, equipment and other supplies needed at the St. John Clinic yesterday.

Kenny Chesney helped evacuated more St. John residents

Sun Dog Cafe, Hercules and Chester’s are open.

Community happy hour happening at The Tap Room on Fridays.

E&C gas is open; NPS dock opens from 8-12 for response workers and at noon for the general public.

Gifft Hill School is open and providing free education to all children. JESS hopes to reopen by mid-October.

The basketball court and playground in Cruz Bay have been cleared thanks to volunteers.

Pink Papaya is open. Chelsea Drug Store is open.

Starfish Market, Dolphin Market, Pine Peace Market, Calabash Market are all open.

The health clinic at the Marketplace is open.

St. John Hardware and Paradise Lumber are open.

St. John Ice is open.

Caravan Auto is open.

WAPA has executed agreements for a first phase of 240 linemen to assist with the Territory’s reconstruction with more on the way.

Ferry Schedule

September 25, 2017 – The St. John – St. Thomas passenger ferry is running on a special schedule. All other ferries & barges are not yet operating or/are being used for emergency & relief or updates have not been received as yet.

This is a special schedule. It will be adjusted based on availability of fuel and curfew. Keep checking back for more info.

Red Hook → Cruz Bay
9:30 am – 11:30 am – 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Cruz Bay → Red Hook
9:00 am – 10:00 am – Noon – 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Pre Irma Picture

St John Recovery Update

!1a

St John Recovery update report by Dan Boyd.

Many private individuals are stepping up an making a huge effort to get this island back to normal again! We have been in meetings twice this weekend which focused on 4 to 500 generators that will be donated to homeowners, road clearing crew, food supplies, gas and diesel donations, free assessment of homes for structural damages, electrical system check, installation of tarp to weather proof homes, census of the actual population.

Huge shout outs to Michael Bloomberg, Tom Secunda of Bloomberg Inc, The Kenny Chesney Foundation, DS Group, Team Dirt and many. many others
THANK YOU !!!
ST JOHN STRONG !!!!

!Dickie


Coral Bay Community Council

Hurricane Irma did major damage to all St. John and St. Thomas, and two weeks later Hurricane Maria compounded that damage and also did major damage to our sister island St. Croix… which reached out to us on St. John and Coral Bay with private boat loads of assistance in the early days after Irma… and now need help themselves…
read more


Victims of Hurricane Maria that took place beginning on Sept. 16, 2017 in parts of U.S. Virgin Islands may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service, the IRS announced today. Individuals who reside or have a business in the Islands of St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas may qualify for tax relief….read more

Hurricane Irma Update

It’s been a week since the eye of Hurricane Irma passed directly over St. John, devastating the island. The Love City spirit is strong. Official organizations and volunteer groups on island and off have been working tirelessly to attend to the needs and safety of St. John’s residents. There have been no reports of loss of life on St. John. Most of our friends and neighbors have reported in safe. A widespread networking effort is underway to locate those who have not.

Communication is still extremely difficult, and non-existent in some places. Many of our homes and businesses have been destroyed, but many have been spared. It will take a while for the big picture to become clear, but the outpouring of support from those of you who love St. John has been tremendous. Thank you for being on our side as we figure out how to go forward.

For those who want to help, donations can be made to:

The St. John Community Foundation

St. John Rescue

For the most up-to-date information, please visit the following sites:

WhatToDo-VI.com

St. John Links

St. John Community Foundation

Stateside St. Johnians Alliance for Hurricane Irma

To check on the safety of island residents, please go to the Irma Safety Check site.

 

Hurricane Irma

Category 5 Hurricane Irma passed directly over St. John Wednesday afternoon.

Category 5 Hurricane Irma passed directly over St. John Wednesday afternoon.

Hurricane Irma passed directly over St. John as a category 5 storm on Wednesday afternoon. With power out and communications down, residents are still trying to determine the safety of family, friends, and neighbors, let alone assess the damage.

Many people are working very hard to compile and disseminate news as it becomes available. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the following Facebook pages:

St. John Links

St. John Community Foundation

Stateside St. Johnians Alliance for Hurricane Irma

To check on the safety of island residents or report someone unaccounted for, please go to the Irma Safety Check site.

If you’d like to help, find out more through these organizations:

The St. John Community Foundation

St. John Rescue

Thank you to everyone who has expressed concern for our beautiful island.