St.John Light Truck Brigade

YOU GUYS AMAZE ME! Thank you so much for your generosity, thanks to all of you the Brigade is underway! Please click the green button to the right that says "Updates" for more news!

In September 2017, two immensely powerful category 5 hurricanes devastated many islands in the Caribbean, including the small island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands. Hurricane Irma brought winds of over 200 mph. Over 80% of the cars, houses, businesses, churches, schools, clinics and fire stations were destroyed or severely damaged. The Virgin Islands National Park, the unspoiled crown jewel of the Caribbean, was entirely stripped bare, with every tree denuded and most of the massive palms simply snapped in two. Overnight, one of the most beautiful and lush places in the world became a wasteland. (the photo above is of Maho Bay the day before the storm and the day after.)

Roads were impassable and many people were trapped in their destroyed homes with no food or water for days. The tourism industry, which employs most of the people living on the island, will take years to recover, leaving folks with no ability to afford, food, water, rent, or basic supplies. While many people were evacuated, many still remain. When Hurricane Maria hit the islands again, wreaking havoc on Puerto Rico, St. Croix and others, St. John endured 100 mph winds and rain, as well as mudslides and rockslides, complicating their recovery even further, and cutting them off from their main sources of aid.

But, the community of St. John is strong. Within hours after these disasters neighbors were digging each other out of the rubble. Residents cleared steep roads by hand, working with any tools they could find. The National Guard, FEMA teams, and DIRT (Disaster Immediate Response Team), as well as regular folks from neighboring islands began to arrive to help. But, since so many cars were destroyed, getting help to those who need it, especially the poor, has been and will continue to be a huge challenge. 

The St. John Light Truck Brigade is a volunteer force of trucks and drivers who will provide free trucking, delivery, and transport of light loads of medical, lifesaving, and building supplies. It is not our intention to compete with our friends who run the local trucking or taxi companies on the island, they will need all the work they can get. But, there are thousands of people who need things moved and they will need help for a long, long time. As island residents, we will still be working on the island helping our neighbors even after the emergency relief agencies have gone. 

Support for The Brigade will allow us to ship, repair, and outfit trucks with racks, generators, waterproof storage bins for transport of supplies, and to keep trucks gassed and on the road. Two vehicles are already on the island working, but we are trying to fund the purchase and shipping of another used vehicle which we will use to carry bigger loads. We can get more supplies and vehicles in as soon as the ports are open. Funding Phase One is our first financial goal, this will allow us to get gas and tools shipped down as well as generators that can be mounted on the truck beds and used to help with emergency power and communications. Phase Two will be about more vehicles working every day to bring people the help and supplies they need to get back on their feet. It is our goal to help those who need it most in the long journey of rebuilding their lives with dignity. 

I am a part time resident of St. John who has been coming to the island to live and work for over 30 years. I work as a writing teacher and book editor but I was off-island when the storms hit. I watched, along with the thousands of others who call the island home, as our quiet, green piece of heaven was almost destroyed. I will be headed back to St. John after the airports and sea ports are open to collaborate with the other relief and volunteer projects on the island. I will make sure that the work of the Truck Brigade is supporting the vital daily recovery work that is being done.

Photos and stories will be posted here of the progress we make, and the people we help, one truckload, one life at a time. 

St. John Strong


PS: In a disaster like this one, many worthy causes arise inviting folks to donate. We know that we are only one among many. If you can only make one donation, please support the amazing search and rescue work being done by St. John Rescue at,  as well as the vital work done by the St. John Community Foundation at

Donations to these places, as with donations to the St. John Light Truck Brigade, go directly to work being done to help St. John recover.

This is what my home used to look like:

This is how it looks now:

St. John Strong
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Light Truck Brigade 
Coral Harbour, United States Virgin Islands
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