Caribbean · Uncategorized

Virgin Islands Hurricane Relief

It’s so heartbreaking to see the devastation brought to the U.S. and British Virgin Islands last week by Hurricane Irma.  Steve and I started visiting the Virgin Islands in 2005 and instantly fell in love with all of them.  We have visited almost every single one of the USVI and BVI, including St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda (we still haven’t made it out to Anegada yet).

Specifically, we stayed every year in April at a tiny hotel called The Sandcastle Hotel on Jost Van Dyke.  The island only has 300 or so residents, is only accessible by boat and the hotel only has 6 rooms.  It sat on the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean – White Bay.  We got to know the staff and even some of the other hotel guests very well.  Whenever we returned, we just checked ourselves into our room (no locks on the doors here) and then went down to greet the staff with hugs.  It really has a special place in our hearts.  Here are a few photos from the beach on Jost during our last stay.

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View from White Bay Beach
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Me with the Sandcastle Hotel staff a few years back (Sana and Shaneek)

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Now here are a few pictures post-Irma of the same beach and hotel.  So, so sad.  The good news is that no one was hurt and everyone was safe though the lady that owned the next door bar was airlifted out due to injuries but the word is that she will be okay.  Buildings can be rebuilt but lives can’t be replaced.

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All those beautiful palm trees are gone – just snapped in half
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View of Sandcastle Hotel (what’s left of it) post-hurricane – the bar was in the middle and has been wiped away
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What’s left of White Bay Beach, Jost Van Dyke – there used to be a couple of beachfront cottages to the left of the blue building – all gone.  Completely wiped away.

The islands of St. Thomas and St. John were hit just as hard.  St. Thomas lost its airport and its only hospital.  St. John was just decimated – they aren’t expecting power for weeks or possibly months and the National Guard has arrived to help clear debris and rescue people.  Steve and I actually have a trip planned to St. John in April 2018 and had rented a house for 4 days on St. John.  As of right now, we are waiting for awhile before we reach out to the owner as the focus should be on getting supplies, electricity, water and other essentials.  Frankly, we have no idea whether or not the house we had planned to rent even exists anymore.  It may, it may not.  If not, we will probably change our plans and suck up airline change fees (thanks, American Airlines).  However, April 2018 is 7 months away and we would like to return and spend our tourism dollars in the islands as long as there is some place for us to stay…and maybe even do some volunteer work if needed but obviously we need a safe place to stay. Again, the good news is that we heard there were no fatalities on St. John though there were four on St. Thomas reported so far.  A few pictures of St. John below.

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Photo of Caneel Bay Resort where we stayed last time on St. John – this was a Rosewood Property at the time.  The round structure in the bottom right corner was the fancy restaurant – just blown away.
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Picture of Cruz Bay, St. John – looking to the main beach and ferry dock covered in boats and debris

I took this incredible sunset shot from Cruz Bay, St. John the last time we were there – it’s such a stunning location in the Caribbean.

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Cruz Bay a few years ago

Steve and I plan to make a donation to help with relief efforts.  There are several relief funds out there, including one set up by basketball star, Tim Duncan who grew up on St. Croix, and another by Music artist Kenny Chesney who had a home on St. John (reports are that his house was basically destroyed).  We know that the islands will rebuild and our hearts go out to those in need.

Tim Duncan charity donation site:  https://www.youcaring.com/21usvirginislandrelieffund-942738

Kenny Chesney donation site:

https://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=g-rgoYUeuV_q7tlXyQ28eywC84NAyH4ZHEpohDvkR1HH-RemjzY8O1gxorGOMuzNeZwJbG&country.x=US&locale.x=US

Many prayers for a speedy recovery to the islands and a quick rebuild and that everyone find shelter and safety.

 

 

 

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