WHAT DOES HURRICANE RECOVERY LOOK LIKE ON AN ISLAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN?

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The U.S. Virgin Islands, St. John included, was hit by two Category 5 hurricanes within 14 days in 2017. Due to the fact that they were so far away from the mainland, recovery from these storms looked and still is looking a lot different, even 4 years later. 

 
Hi! My name is Sutton and I go to Kent Denver School. The class that I am taking is Digital Photography and I hope you enjoy! 

What does recovery look like on the island? 

When it comes to hurricane recovery on the USVI it looks very different than a hurricane recovery in Texas or Florida, for example. First of all, there is just the simple logistics of it all, islands are in the middle of the ocean. The process of sending down machines and supplies in order to repair the roads, houses, beaches, telephone poles, etc is much more time consuming and difficult. One major fix that needed to be done on St. John for example were the wooden telephone poles, which had fallen onto the roads both blocking the cars and stopping the phone reception. Just 3 years later post hurricanes, almost all of the telephone poles have been replaced by larger metal ones. Similar to something like this: 

Free photo: Metal Power Pole - Electric, Feed, Fuse - Free Download - Jooinn

Secondly, comes the houses and other buildings. Although a lot of the architecture on the islands is meant for hurricane weather, two hurricanes hitting at once was not something that any of the islands were prepared for. Buildings and homes lost the roofs, walls, windows, or even the full structure in the storm. Even 4 years later there are some homes and other buildings that are still in awful condition just waiting to be fixed. Luckily, there have been a lot of local and mainland support for the USVI, and one by one the architecture is starting to come back to life.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is British-Virgin-Islands-3.jpeg

 

Helpers: 

There are many amazing charities and people that have made a major impact on the recovery of the island. One major contributor to the recovery was Kenny Chesney, as he used to be a home owner on St. John. He didn’t only offer his home as a refugee location but he assisted locals in getting off the island and started a charity organization called “Love for Love City”. Along with writing a song titled, “A Song for the Saints”. There were many other people that played a major role, however he is just one notable person. 

Kenny Chesney Launches “Love for Love City” Foundation for Hurricane Irma  Relief & Records New Music | The Country Daily

Kenny Chesney - Love For Love City (with Ziggy Marley) (Official Audio) -  YouTube

The Importance of Tourism: 

One major factor that is taken away when these types of storms hit islands like the USVI is the number of tourists. Since the islands are so far away from the mainland and off in their own little world, everything on the islands are relying on having tourists and tourism. When resorts, rental homes, restaurants, and possibly even airports are destroyed there are no other major ways that these islands can earn the money they need, especially when they need to rebuild. In this situation, right as the islands were becoming somewhat back to normal with their tourism, the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, which did nothing but hurt the islands even more. 

 

Photo Gallery: 

As there is with every hurricane, buildings and structures are destroyed. There are restaurants, shops, bars, houses and so much more that never come back the same. However, most of the time when it comes to life on the island, a lot of the things are never fixed. There are many areas that never go back to normal just due to the lack of ability to ship out the desired resources to the places in need. Also beaches and wildlife, which are very important to the island are majorly effected by these storms. There are many pieces of nature on St. John in specific that will never look the same. Here are just a few examples, specifically from St. John, USVI, of some before and after photos from the hurricanes. 

Before: 

Cinnamon Bay Archaeology Museum 2016 Pre Hurricanes 

VIIS Hurricane Recovery - Virgin Islands National Park (U.S. National Park  Service)

After: 

Cinnamon Bay Archaeology Museum Post Hurricanes (present day) 

VIIS Hurricane Recovery - Virgin Islands National Park (U.S. National Park  Service)


Before: 

Maho Bay Pre-Hurricanes 

Maho Is Open - Virgin Islands National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

After: 

Maho Bay Post Hurricanes 

VIIS Hurricane Recovery - Virgin Islands National Park (U.S. National Park  Service)


Before: 

Pre-Hurricanes Reef

Hurricane Hole Post 2017 storms (U.S. National Park Service)

After: 

Post Hurricanes Reef 

VIIS Hurricane Recovery - Virgin Islands National Park (U.S. National Park  Service)

Here is a video explaining further the difficulties of recovery on an island: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/2-years-later-u-s-island-territories-still-hurting-from-hurricanes-irma-and-maria

Personal Photography: 

 

What can you do to help?

DONATE DONATE DONATE!

There are so many different charities you can donate to, including Love for Love City! Help not only St. John, but all the USVI come back stronger than ever! They need your help! 

Love for Love City Donating Link!

What do you think? 

What are your thoughts about this prevalent issue? What would you do if you were in charge of the USVI or even St. John in specific? Are there any actions that you believe should have been take but weren’t or the other way around? Leave your thoughts below! 

Sources: 

https://www.nps.gov/viis/learn/viis-hurricane-recovery.htm 

https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=3408

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/2-years-later-u-s-island-territories-still-hurting-from-hurricanes-irma-and-maria

10 Comments

10 comments

  1. Hi! I thought you did a very nice job on your presentation about destruct from hurricanes. Your pictures were absolutely outstanding and I thought really brought your website to life by showing what destruction really look likes. Your pictures also tie really nicely together with your beautiful question. I also enjoy how you talk about ways to help clean up destruction or how to get involved. Great job!!

  2. Hello! I think you did a great job on your presentation! I have actually been to St. John with my family and your pictures did a great job representing the beautiful place. I really liked your before and after pictures as well because it’s a visual way for people to see the destruction that these places go through from a hurricane. I like that you specifically talked about things that were destroyed (roads and wooden telephone poles) and ways to help the islands recover from the devastation. Nice job!

  3. Hey! I think you did a really good job especially in terms of visuals. The before and after pictures you chose do a really good job of emphasizing the affects that the hurricane had on the islands’ beauty. I’m really glad you wrote about this because I think a lot of people overlook it sometimes just because it doesn’t affect them. I think the way you put it together does a great job of bringing attention to the issue and the solution.

  4. Hi! I loved your presentation. I thought all the visuals were very engaging. I agree, I think this is a very prevalent issue and I think all the before and after photos you showed will help spread awareness over this issue.

  5. Hi there! I really enjoyed looking through your presentation. Using such beautiful visuals to get the point of your project across super effective. In particular, the before and after images of the different environments showed how much hurricanes can really turn a place inside. I live in Florida, and have seen hurricane damage first hand, but you’re very right to point out how much different, and frankly more difficult it is for island communities to recover. I will definitely be sharing your donation link! Great work!

  6. Hi Sutton! I think you are bringing light to an issue that many have forgotten as time passes. Also your personal photos were very pretty and brought a lot to the page. In response to your questions, my thoughts are that we need to constantly be reminded of the small islands/countries that need support long after the initial news coverage of the hurricane. I do not know honestly how I would handle this situation if I was in charge but I know it would be a long process that involved everyone supporting each other!

  7. Hi Sutton. Your presentation was great and all the visuals made it very engaging. I haven’t heard much about this issue and it should definitely be talked about more.

  8. Hi Sutton! Your presentation does a great job of illustrating the lasting effects of a hurricane. The images are a clear reminder of how climate change is only making these problems worse, and how we have to combat it. Great job!

  9. Hi Sutton. Your page interested me because I made my page about Madagascar and they receive climate issues pretty often as well. Tourism is also very important there and is a large source of income for the country, so without it, it would be very hard to repair damages. It’s even more difficult when it’s an island, as you mentioned. I like that you are shedding light on an issue that not many people think about. Thanks.

  10. Hey Sutton! I am so glad I stumbled upon your project because I feel like many individuals who are not directly impacted by natural disasters often have a difficult time validating and understanding the recovery process. You make a great point that tourism does support many small island economies, and not only is the impact of the storm economically devastating, but the reduced number of visitors is as well. The before and after photos of the Cinnamon Bay Archaeology Museum were especially moving to me because it was made out of concrete and, therefore, quite physically sound, demonstrating the magnitude of the storm. I also think the reef images are very moving as storms affecting wildlife are rarely a topic of conversation, especially aquatic life.

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