Sooknanan Family Irma/Maria Relief


Hi everyone,

I am Jhanki Samlal, Mala's older sister. On behalf of all my family, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. My parents are so used to helping others that they really don’t ever expect or ask for help.  They didn’t have words when we told them of the strength and support you all are giving. 

As all are aware, they suffered a second blow from Hurricane Maria. During the time between the storms they were able to move into a 250 sq ft storeroom alongside their small restaurant. They secured the roof and repaired the leaks. The island had a strict curfew and they could only be outside from 12 noon to 6 pm. During that time they tried to recover whatever they could from their destroyed apartment. However, the open roof, 185 mph winds and torrential rains did not leave much in any useable condition. Some things, like my mother's asthma machine, are just gone and mold and mildew are taking over. They were able to collect some clothing and household items and are trying to wash and clean them as much as possible. They are currently sleeping on 2 twin mattresses and a large foam pad.  The curfew gradually eased and they were able to operate the restaurant for two days. 

Then Hurricane Maria was forecast to make a direct hit. They stayed inside the restaurant for 48 hours until she passed. The winds were not as bad as Irma but the torrential rain into their open apartment made retrieval of their possessions virtually impossible. Tarps are not available for purchase, and there have been very few, if any, at the distribution points. Sign up for the FEMA roof program does not begin until 9/25. Curfew is now in effect from 10am to 6pm and as of today (9/24) they were able to open the restaurant and resume cooking. 

First Pallet Sent 9/21/17

Humanitarian aid is arriving slowly, but lines are long and provisions are scant. Your generosity has enabled them to use their time productively by re-establishing their business and start providing for themselves and their community. We were able to buy them much needed clothing, medication, batteries, water, hygiene items, food items and more and have shipped the first pallet on 9/21 through Tropical Shipping in West Palm Beach.

Slowly they are starting to rebuild. Again, thanks to all who have contributed so far. Your kindness and generosity is helping to give my family the support they need to become whole again. 

Orignial Post:

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for taking a moment to read our story. We appreciate all the love and support.

My name is Mala Cannuscio, and I have family who was devastated by Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas USVI. I am one of seven siblings and live stateside in South Texas. I have three siblings (Jhanki Samlal, Jaye Sooknanan, A Sooknanan) living in South Florida and one sibling in Baltimore (Meera Sooknanan). We have decided to set up this Go Fund Me page for our parents and the younger siblings (Akash Sooknanan & Krishna Sooknanan) currently living in St Thomas. 

The Virgin Islands has not been receiving any major news coverage even though they are a US territory and all residents are US citizens. People tend to forget that they exist or figure that since they live on a Caribbean island, they are used to storms. The islands got a direct hit from Irma that was a category 5 plus hurricane; the worst they have ever experienced.

My dad, mom, two brothers, and four-year-old niece are being forced to live in their small, two room "to go" Roti shop because their home is completely destroyed. 

My family has been in the Virgin Islands for over 40 years and I was actually born there. My parents are known in the community for their little shop, the Roti Palace, that has been there for over 15 years. It is not large and just run by my parents. They make enough for them to live, pay the bills and be happy but not to have any excess. My dad still has his old red 1987 Mitsubishi pickup truck. That's the family vehicle. 

The roof blew off while they were in the home during the battering it took from the 185 mph winds in the eye wall of the storm. My mother was cooking, my niece was at the table and everyone just hanging around. At the time the roof came off, the noise was so loud my niece dropped to her knees holding her ears screaming. My dad grabbed her, told my mom to "just shut off the gas stove" and they ran downstairs to seek shelter at the neighbor’s house, leaving all personal belongings behind. All that remains now are some plywood boards. The rain accumulated to over two feet of water inside and destroyed everything.

The rain water that was filling up their unit was causing the downstairs neighbor's home to leak, so my dad went upstairs and hammered a hole through six-inches of concrete during the storm to drain the water so that the concrete ceiling wouldn't cave in on everyone. It took several more holes to actually get it fully emptied. 

They moved into the shop now with no running water, no electricity, no clean clothing, no bedding or bed for that matter, and very limited supplies. The airport and post offices are destroyed and the stateside family has no way of helping with cleanup, labor, or to bring in supplies. Generic supplies can be donated for overall relief, but you can't get anything to them directly at the moment. People we know have tried and their families have not received the items. 

Like many people on the island that rent, they do not have any insurance. They must rebuild their lives with only what they can scrape together.

Donations will go towards the following:

-Funds to get a livable space.
-The purchase of basic necessities like water, food, clothing, furniture pieces, hygiene supplies, living supplies for the five of them and overall replacement of water damaged items to make a home again.
-Funds to support the cost of living because of the mandatory curfew (6pm-12noon) restricting the ability to meet standard business hours).

Caribbean Islanders are known for their warmth, good humor, and generous smiles. They truly live by the "Don't worry.. be happy" philosophy. However, that philosophy alone will not get them through this trauma. 

Your generosity will help aid my family by giving them the boost that they need to get back on their feet in a safe, productive environment. It won't replace everything, but it will help them start somewhere. 

Thank you for any help you can give and thank you for taking the time to be a part of our family's story. 

100% of the funds will be used by the Sooknanan family to get back on feet. Jainanan Sooknanan will be withdrawing the funds from this campaign to aid in the recovery. 

View of the house during the storm.

Roof Pieces
Mala and Daddy
My niece Allanys 
St. Thomas Family
Vince & Rosemarie visiting Roti Palace
  • Anonymous 
    • $200 
    • 47 mos
  • Tanya Jamison 
    • $100 
    • 48 mos
  • Esam Mikhaeil  
    • $100 
    • 48 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $150 
    • 48 mos
  • Lynn Muller 
    • $200 
    • 48 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Mala Cannuscio 
Anna's Retreat, United States Virgin Islands
Jainanan Sooknanan 
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