Irmaria Relief to The Caribbean

St. Thomas and St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, America’s Paradise, were decimated by Hurricane Irma on September 5th, 2017.  The hurricane left approximately 40,000 American citizens homeless, with an expectation of that number increasing. 

There are approximately only 60,000 full time residents on those islands.

Sustained winds were recorded as high as 187 mph.  Both islands are without power and it is expected to take up to a year to restore power completely.  This means no refrigeration, ceiling fans, running water, flushing toilets, lights, turning on electric stoves, laundry, showers, inconsistent internet, and limited cell service to name a few. 

 The hospital has been destroyed and can no longer provide medical assistance.  In addition, several police and fire stations were destroyed.  Most of the island's gas/diesel supply has been contaminated.  The islands are dependent on deliveries by either boat or plane, and as of September 15, the only airport has yet to be opened.  

Now it is a matter of catching up to bulk up the supplies necessary to support life.  Many businesses are completely gone, and unlike the mainland, they are unable to drive to the next town to a hardware store to get the supplies needed for rebuilding.

 Survivors are fighting for food and potable water, whereas on the mainland, people can drive somewhere for aid or relief.  So far, four people have been reported dead, but more deaths are expected as the island recovery process takes place with removing debris and extracting people from their destroyed homes. 

On top of that, 60% of the economy of the U.S.V.I. is based on tourism.   Without any of the services we take for granted here on the continental U.S., it is going to be quite some time before it is comfortable for just the residents of the USVI, let alone for them to support any tourists. 

 Jessica Burke was born in Tortola, BVI to Sharon Burke who was an ex-pat who moved to the USVI in the late 1960's.  Jessica only left the V.I. to go to college in Baltimore, MD, then returned after graduating, to be with her family in St. Thomas.  She married Jason Wright, who is an ex-pat who moved into the Virgin Islands in 2003.  Jessica and Jason moved to Austin approximately one and half years ago to be near family.  Elizabeth Childers, born in Austin, who spent 8 years in the U.S.V.I. with Sharon and Jessica, is now back in Austin, and has managed her own salon near 34th St..  

These three started a benefit group on Facebook called "Austinites Helping Virgin Islanders - Hurricane Irma Relief".  Their plan is to gather as many emergency supplies as possible, and get them to the U.S. Virgin Islands as rapidly as logistics will allow.  So far, they are getting responses from friends and family that live across the nation, wanting to help.  

Jessica has several family members still living in St. Thomas, and the trio have dozens of friends who have lost their homes, and businesses to the devastating Hurricane Irma.  The funds they are generating in this account are only going to be used to purchase supplies, and ship them down to the United States Virgin Islands.   Below this weekends event times, is a list of some of the items that will help the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands.  

Starting Friday, September 15th through Sunday, September 17th, donations can be dropped off at the U-Haul Storage unit 535 at 8710 Burnet Rd., Austin, TX 78757. 

Drop off times: 

Friday: 4:00-8:00. 

Saturday and Sunday: 10:00-5:00

The most crucial items include:

Medical tape
Hydrogen peroxide
Feminine hygiene products
Mosquito repellant
Bar soap

Dry Goods/Canned Food:
Cured meat
Canned Vegetables and Fruit
Energy Bars
Powdered Juice (Gatorade)
Coconut Water
Water purification tablets
Powdered/boxed/evaporated milk
Salt pills

Baby supplies:
Baby food
Baby wash
Juice boxes

General Supplies:
Underwear (all sizes)
LED/Solar lanterns and Flashlights
Batteries (All)
Pet food

Building supplies:
Portable gas containers
Oil for Chainsaws
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Jason Nils Wright 
Anna's Retreat, United States Virgin Islands
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