Amy Roberts, reporter for St. John Tradewinds, recently wrote about the team from the U.S. Public Health Services with expertise in post-trauma counseling who arrived Sunday afternoon, October 1:
No doubt they were somewhat taken by surprise by the sight that greeted them when they stepped off the ferry in Cruz Bay. Instead of the decimated island filled with traumatized people that has been portrayed in much of the national media in the past several weeks, the team arrived instead to an island party in Frank Powell Park. People of all ages and colors swayed to the sounds of Cool Sessions. St. John Brewers handed out bottles of cold beer, ale, ginger beer and root beer, collecting only donations to pay the band. The music started a couple of hours later than planned – the result of generator problems which explain much of the breakdown in services these days. But no one complained, even when the band stopped at 5:40 P.M. to provide ample time to get home before the 6 P.M. curfew which was still in effect.
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Dancing in Franklin Powell Sr. park to Cool Sessions.
Those who were on St. John and lived through not one, but two Category 5 hurricanes within a 2 week period, have proven why our island is known as Love City! The outpouring of assistance -- neighbor to neighbor -- as evidenced by the St. John Rescue all volunteer staff who worked tirelessly to save people from their homes, and the folks at St. John Community Foundation who spent countless hours coordinating relief efforts for sheltering and caring for and feeding St John residents.
The owners and staff of Cruz Bay Landing, 420 To Center, and Longboard (pictured left) who opened their restaurants offering two meals a day for free. And, then there are the off-island folks who have donated their time, resources (planes, generators, food, water) and talent who have truly been saviors.
While it is impossible to thank everyone and every organization, a few of the standout organizations have been Kenny Chesney's and Mike Bloomberg's Foundations. Both country singer Kenny Chesney and former NYC Mayor Bloomberg have personally visited St. John to assess the situation, express their commitment to the island and its people, and sent their staff and multiple planes filled with relief supplies. Government resources, both Virgin Islands and federal, FEMA, Defense Department, Public Health, National Park have worked collaboratively with local non-profits. The St. John Animal Care Center was helped by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) by bringing in staff and a plane to rescue over 100 dogs and cats and take them to stateside shelters. The Red Cross has also been outstandingly supportive.
As is said, it takes a village, and boy, do we have a great one! Each day for the past month there has been a Town Meeting at 7:30 AM at which the major organizations will brief any and all about what to expect that day or week:
Briefing at the Town Meeting is 'Pumpkin', St. John manager of Viya (USVI communication services) and a well-known landmark always offering help to those in need (including Chuck and Kristin when we first moved to St John in 1998 and urgently needed a phone installed -- to deal with a family medical emergency -- where we were renting while building Great Expectations)