I laid in bed in my parents basement the night before the storm hit St. John, restlessly scrolling through my timeline. Every post I could see was from my friends who were still on island and getting ready to brave the storm. Everyone seemed to have done what they could to prepare, but I laid there in complete fear and agony for what was to come. I knew there would be a time where all of those people posting would go silent and lose connection with the outside world. I prayed, I texted all of my friends “I love you” as much as I could, and I prayed some more. Up until that point, I don’t think I have ever felt so helpless. I had to fly back to Virginia the week prior for a wedding, but I felt guilty for not being there for my friends and for my home. I woke up that morning to the final texts from my friends which generally stated, “I’m scared.” I sobbed for them, I prayed for them, but that was all I could do. I was helpless.
The storm left more catastrophic damage to St. John than I could have ever imagined. 50% of the houses are destroyed on St. John. 90% of boats are damaged or sunken. Parents hovered over their children as roofs flew off, people used all of their strength to hold their doors closed during the 220mph winds. People who have put their entire lives into building businesses have lost everything they have worked for. This was our paradise, this was our home, and now it is no longer the St. John that we knew. Resources are limited and not being distributed in any way that seems to be effective. There won’t be power or running water for a very long time. It shouldn’t have been possible for it to get any worse, but now there are looters who are going through peoples destroyed homes to take what is left, they have stolen the majority of our ATM’s, they have broken into the customs building and stolen guns, they broke into our insurance agency where people have all of their private and personal information. The people who are still there are scared for their safety and for their lives.I haven’t been the easiest person to be around since the storm hit. I am so easily frustrated by complaints about the small things. I just want to keep screaming, “WELL AT LEAST YOU HAVE A HOME,” because so many that I know personally, do not. I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to have a full grasp of this situation unless they are living it, but I am begging for some perspective and some understanding. And most of all, some help. Picture your town. Your home, your favorite coffee shop, your happy place. Can you picture it all being ripped out from under you, while you just have to sit back and watch it happen? There was nothing that could have prepared those islands for this storm. They didn’t have the luxury of getting in their cars and driving north. Evacuation was next to impossible. They just had to sit there while everything they owned and loved got taken away. Please picture that the next time you’re frustrated with your family, getting angry in traffic, or in a long line at the grocery store. If that makes you feel anything, please help St. John. If you know anyone in the media, please bring this to their attention. With the storm hitting Florida, that has been the main focus of the news. It is so important for this to get more coverage because we need so many more people to contribute. Contact your local government, news, and anyone you can think of in a position of power. We are American citizens and we deserve help too. I don’t want to be here. I want to go home. I want to wake up from this nightmare and go sit in my little apartment and watch the 6 DVD’s I have over and over again. I want to go to the place where I built a life, where I made the most amazing friends and memories. I want to go to the place where I found myself and my happiness. But myself, and every other St. Johnian knows that we just can’t do that right now. Our home is in shambles, and many of us are left lost and wondering what to do next. I don’t have a job or a place to go, I just have the hope and faith that things are going to start getting better. As soon as I am able, I will be back to St. John to do my part in the cleanup and rebuilding. Until then, I am trying to channel my grief and heartbreak into help for my home. Right now, the best way to help is by donating to St. John Rescue. Until there is any easy way to get supplies and manpower down, I believe this is the best way to contribute for the time being. I am begging you for your help. St. John is the kindest, most beautiful, most loving place I have been fortunate enough to be. If you have been to the Virgin Islands, if you have smiled when someone has said “Good Afternoon” or slid a Painkiller across the bar, donate. If you have read my blogs, looked at my pictures, told me that you were jealous of the life I was able to live there, donate. That life came to a screeching halt for so many people that do not deserve to be living through this hell with so little help. This past week has been an unbelievable reality check. I could have never imagined this happening to St. John, so I’ve always just felt bad for a moment and then kept scrolling when I have read about people losing their homes in natural disasters. Please do not keep scrolling. Please give St. John and the USVI the help and love that we deserve. Hurricane Irma didn’t touch American soil when it hit Florida, it touched American soil when it destroyed the US Virgin Islands. These are our brothers and sisters under God who have lost everything they have to their name. Please help.