And, boy, is she beautiful both inside and out!
First, the obvious beauty -- our hillsides are now covered with new foliage and flowers are blooming with vigor, and flamboyant trees are even blazing red with a second bloom this year. Our waters are beautiful turquoise again and crystal clear. And, thanks to lots of hard work by volunteers and the National Park Service personnel, our beaches are again silky sandy. Some beaches, like Hawksnest, are actually bigger! Just last week the National Park Service announced that the VI National Park is open again. Dive and fishing boat captains are reporting that sea life is thriving with fish and lobsters. Charter boats are back in business and taking people out on the water to enjoy snorkeling spots near and far.
Secondly, and as importantly, residents of St. John and people from around the country who love St. John have given of themselves in an extraordinary way every day since September when the two Category 5 hurricanes (Irma & Maria), with their ferocious winds, 'visited' St. John. St. Johnians jumped in to volunteer through St. John Rescue and St. John Community Foundation, first in search and rescue efforts and then helping provide housing for those who lost it, free meals, clothing and they worked hand in hand with the many wonderful government and private sector stateside organizations including Kenny Chesney and Mike Bloomberg's Foundations. Folks from FEMA, the Defense Department, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Red Cross have all been amazingly committed to helping our island rebuild. Linemen from all over the country have invaded (to our delight!) St. John. We have more utility trucks with stateside license plates than those with USVI ones! Linemen worked Thanksgiving day and are routinely celebrated by local residents.