In 2008, I met my husband, Tripp, while visiting a friend who lived on St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. The short story is, we fell in love, and I moved to the island a few months after meeting him. At the time, it made sense. I loved my life in Orange County, CA, but I was willing and ready for a change. In hindsight, it was insane. I left a good job, fantastic girlfriends, and a condo that I loved (and had finally nearly finished updating and decorating). But, it was definitely an adventure, and it has become an important part of our story.
Tripp and I spent the first 7 years of life together on St. Thomas, a 32-square mile island in the Caribbean. St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, Water Island, and a number of smaller cays, make up the US Virgin Islands. These islands, surrounded by turquoise blue water, are known as “America’s Paradise”. It even says so on the license plate. They are a major cruise ship and tourist destination. As a US territory, Virgin Islanders, just like their commonwealth neighbors in Puerto Rico, are US citizens. Americans.
On September 6, 2017, St. Thomas was hit by Hurricane Irma, a category 5 hurricane that had already demolished Barbuda, St. Martin, and Anguilla. Irma tore roofs off homes, uprooted trees, tore the siding off buildings, destroyed roads, condemned the hospital, and left many people without safe water, food, and shelter. St. John and the British Virgin Islands were also leveled by Irma. Then, two weeks later, Hurricane Maria, another category 5 hurricane, destroyed Dominica, St. Croix, and Puerto Rico while causing additional damage and flooding to the islands already devastated by Hurricane Irma.
The situation in the USVI, Puerto Rico, and the BVI is dire. So many people, including over 3 million Americans, are without water, food, and shelter. Relief efforts have begun, and there are stories of amazing people doing amazing things. Organizations like Island Dog Rescue, that sent a large plane to fly all the dogs and cats from the St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix animal shelters to Virginia Beach, VA, where they were delivered to the safety of local animal rescues (how awesome are they?). Tim Duncan, a St. Croix native, has been actively involved in collecting and distributing donations. Congresswoman Stacy Plaskett was instrumental in setting up Fund for the Virgin Islands through the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands. The islands are in desperate need of any help you can provide, whether monetary or supplies.
Want to help?
There are just a few ideas for donations. Check your local community for ways that you can help as well. Thank you!