In 2017, the US Virgin Islands were hit hard by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Thousands of homes and businesses were severely damaged or destroyed by the flooding and heavy winds, and more than 11,000 families had to apply for emergency assistance. In addition to FEMA, many local and national organizations have been and are still working hard to get families back on their feet.
Providing Emergency Supplies
Founded by Kirk Chewning and David Johnson, Cane Bay Cares is a local non-profit that has raised money to provide for immediate needs of families impacted by the hurricanes. The organization donated generators to various community groups on St. Croix before power was restored, and they also collected and distributed many personal hygiene, food, and medical supplies to people in need. Most recently, Cane Bay Cares donated furniture to six families selected by Lutheran Social Services of the USVI.
Providing Food For Pets
Humans were not the only USVI residents affected by the hurricanes; their pets also lost their homes. In order to meet the needs of pets and their owners, Purina has donated over 200,000 pounds of dog and cat food to USVI pet owners and shelters. The company has also provided funding for transportation of animals to shelters. Thanks to their efforts, many pets are surviving with their families or have been safely re-homed.
Providing Mental And Emotional Care
Hurricane victims are likely to have been traumatized by the disaster, especially if they experienced the loss of loved ones, injury, or displacement. Project Promise is a local non-profit that provides mental health care for USVI residents who were affected by the hurricanes. In addition to reaching out to residents who may be suffering psychological trauma, they plan to train community members as life coaches who can provide ongoing care and assistance.
Providing Ongoing Help With Recovery
Many tourists visit the USVI year after year to enjoy the beautiful beaches. Many of those tourists are motivated now to help the islands recover. One local organization that is always seeking volunteers is the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park on St. John. They provide temporary housing for volunteers who can spend a week or more helping to clear walking trails and roads.