*This article was originally published on 9/8/2017. It was last updated at 12:30 am EST on 9/11, and will be updated continuously for accuracy and new developments.*
We’ve put together this article to consolidate accurate, locally-sourced information on how you can help the Hurricane Irma relief efforts on St. John, US Virgin Islands. Several different lists and sources of info are going around social media, creating some confusion and potentially spreading false information. Unfortunately, there are also donation scams popping up.
Our goal is to be accurate and to make sure that resources get to the right places and people. We will update this information frequently.
If you have new information for St. John that you feel should be included, leave a comment with the details. We will either publish as a comment or add to the body of the article. Please include your contact info in the comment so we may get in touch for further details if necessary.
Latest Updates ( most recent on top):
Update as of 12am EST 9/11
FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO LEAVE STJ – TOMORROW’S 9/11 FERRY EVACUATION SCHEDULE!!!
1.Bad girl – 24pax – coral bay – 12pm
2. Betty Ann – 36pax- Cruz bay – btw 12:30-2pm
3. Milemark – 36pax – Cruz bay
*4. Adventurer- 40(?) pax – coral bay – 2:30-3:00pm
Adventurer is a maybe
All service is weather permitting.
All of the boats are to St Croix.
St.Croix has shelters available for people that need them, a hot meal and a little bit of comfort available and ready.
Also important to note that the boats are first come first serve. Don’t worry more boats are coming and we will keep coming.
NOTE: In Cruz Bay people might want to wait up on the hill if they’re worried about safety concerns around the docks. Wait until you see the boat coming in and then head down.
Update as of 11am EST 9/10
- Starting tomorrow, planes should be available to evacuate people. Most likely, the destination will be Philadelphia, as FL is not an option right now.
“People are anxious to get out and we are trying to get them out as soon as possible.” -Jesse Vann, STJ Resident working as Stateside Irma Relief in collaboration with STJ Rescue
- Today: Helicopters are running back and forth between STX and STJ with supplies. More supplies are expected this week.
- STJ Rescue is working with Global DIRT teams on search and rescue.
- Reporting that the VI Government, National Guard, etc. are all playing well together and being responsive. St. Croix has shelters set up to receive evacuees.
- Communications difficulties still plague relief efforts. Currently, a router on a ladder is the main source of internet service for the island. The fiber optic cable on STJ was accidentally cut by WAPA while trying to clear power lines.
- Reporting that evacuation shuttles are running sporadically between Cruz Bay and STX and PR, but clearing the incoming boats has been arduous and wait times are long. Women and children first. No pets. ID Required.
- Fema has planes and other private evacuations are in process, but STT airport is still closed to commercial flights.
Reports out of St. John are spotty, as the entire island has lost power. Roads are blocked, power lines are down, making it difficult and dangerous even to navigate on foot. There is no cell phone service on the vast majority of the island.The almost complete lack of communication makes it difficult to know exactly the extent of the damage and if there are any casualties or people who need to be evacuated immediately for medical purposes.
People on island are slowly being able to get in touch with family members in the states – some after standing for six hours in line to use a satellite phone in Coral Bay. In Cruz Bay, there appears to be some cell signal and wifi available in a few places but, of course, battery life must be rationed.
St. John Rescue has already been on the ground and have more emergency responders ready to go. The Coast Guard is not letting any boat traffic besides ferries and emergency vehicles arrive on St. John, and they’re limiting it to Cruz Bay. So emergency help needs to either arrive by ferry from St. Thomas (difficult, because the airport is closed) or by helicopter or ferry from St. Croix. There are people working tirelessly to make this happen.
Reports are not as forthcoming as many of us would like. But that’s because 1. Efforts are focused on getting there to help, not necessarily in announcing a play by play on Facebook, and 2. Communication on the island is so difficult right now. So when help does arrive, it’s hard to confirm.
That being said, we know that local charities like the St. John Community Foundation are already working to feed people and provide shelter. They are working out of restaurants in Cruz Bay that have been cleared for safety.
Fortunately, more help is on the way. Emergency responders have already arrived via helicopters from St. Croix and more are on the way.
Update as of 7:00pm EST 9/9:
- Emergency medical teams and supplies arrived at the Myrah Keating Clinic today via helicopter from St.Croix. Emergency personnel report that the clinic is now running at top notch. (Note: They are only taking extreme medical emergencies at the moment and these are being medevaced out.) No deaths have been reported on St.John.
- World class search and rescue (S&R) teams also arrived today by boat and helicopter and are working tirelessly to find those previously unaccounted for. Hold tight! They are still searching!We are compiling and consolidating lists so that we can get better information to our S&R teams.Read our latest post for important information on finding unaccounted for people: Update on St. John Hurricane Irma Relief: How to Help Find Loved Ones on St. John
- Communication is still very difficult in all areas with the exception of Cruz Bay. Ronnie’s Pizza has a good cell service, not sure if he’s got pie to sell yet!The good news is that re-establishing communication is top priority so we can get relief in fast. Emergency communications equipment arrived in Coral Bay this morning, the area hardest hit by Irma.
- The Coast Guard opened Cruz Bay to emergency traffic and ferry boats. Ferries with 40-70 person capacity have been running folks off St. John to St.Croix and Puerto Rico. While roads are not officially opened, as there is much debris, some vehicles have managed to make their way across the island in search of friends and neighbors and supplies like water and food.
We just received this confirmed updates at 11:00am EST 9/9:
- The strongest part of the eye wall went over Coral Bay. It was hit with the most force in the Caribbean.
- Yesterday, 12,000 lbs of food and water were dropped.
Trustworthy Facebook Pages
Facebook is where most people are spending their time posting updates and photos. This is fantastic, but can also perpetuate rumors and information can be rather scattered. The following Facebook pages are trustworthy sources of information:
Are friends and family safe?
Lists have popped up on Facebook that include people who have been seen alive and well after the storm. It has been more difficult to report people in Coral Bay, as they are completely shut off from communication besides the use of one satellite phone. Some areas are completely impassable, as is the main road into Coral Bay.
The St. John Roll Call Safe from Irma app has been created as a way to verify who has been accounted for since the hurricane. This is the only hyper-verified electronic list right now and should be the one used.
This continues to be the most frustrating and anxiety-producing aspect of the immediate aftermath. However, no deaths have been reported yet and more people are popping up safe every hour.
Where should I donate money?
We strongly recommend cash donations to the St. John Rescue and the St. John Community Foundation. Both of these organizations are run by people who live on St. John. They have been doing good on the island for years. We trust them and implore you to donate to these established, local organizations.
St. John Rescue
St. John Rescue needs immediate funds to help get rescuers, supplies and equipment to the island ASAP. They are already mobilized and on the ground and will be able to do more with more funds.
They started a Go Fund Me campaign specifically for this purpose. Some people are concerned about the 5% fee Go Fund Me takes for use of their platform. This has already been earmarked by STJ Rescue as a cost. But if you would prefer to donate directly through their website where the PayPal fee is 2.5%, we have also provided that link below.
Here is the latest Facebook update by St. John Rescue. Even though they’ve raised over $100,000 – they’ve spent most of it already and desperately need more. Below is their FB post from this morning. You can follow their page by clicking on any of the links in the post.
The St. John Community Foundation
The STCF needs help feeding and sheltering people in the immediate aftermath and will undoubtedly be part of the rebuilding process in the months and years to come. They are already working with the Red Cross and FEMA in these efforts.
You can donate to the St. John Community Foundation here.
Here is a wonderfully informative update from the St. John Community Foundation Facebook Page this morning (9/10) at 10a.
On 9/9, we received this email from Celia Kalousek, the longtime Director of the St. John Community Foundation:
Persons interested in helping Hurricane Irma disaster response in St. John can best support the relief effort by making a cash donation instead of sending donated goods and services. Cash donations to voluntary disaster relief organizations enables them to purchase exactly what is most needed by the survivors and helps the local economy recover from the disaster as well.
Donated items require voluntary agencies to spend money and considerable time for sorting, inventorying, warehousing, and distribution. Additionally, there is no state or federal transportation for donated goods unless they fill an identified critical need. There are a number of voluntary agencies receiving cash donations for Hurricane Irma relief – and more options will be provided as they are identified.
As you may know, we were formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Marilyn and have been responsibly managing local and federal funds for over 28 years. We have a fully operational board who approves all funding (none of whom are paid) – feel free to ask us any questions, look us up on D&B, and Guidestar, etc. I can also share our Certificate of Good Standing with the VI Gov’t and our EIN # is 66-0463145. Your donation is fully tax deductible.
I am also on the Board of the USVI VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster), a nationally recognized disaster response agency and partners of local EOC’s (Emergency Operations Centers) and the territorial ESF-6 (headed by Dept. of Human Services under the VI Govt). Our requests and intentions for assistance will be vetted through them to limit overlap/duplication in response needs. We are in daily contact with Red Cross on the ground and FEMA locally and nationally and know what is available and are told how we can assist to fill the gaps.
Again, you can donate to the St. John Community Foundation here.
St. Croix Group: Irma Relief for our Sister Islands
This blessed group out of St. Croix is also providing immediate relief to St. John by sending boats from Caribbean Sea Adventures to Coral Bay with supplies.
They have been continually running back and forth between STX and STJ/STT with emergency supplies and they are not planning to stop anytime soon.
Virgin Islands Relief Fund
Virgin Islands Relief Fund Inc., was started by local residents to help ensure the efforts of all donations goes to help those islanders affected by Hurricane Irma. The goal is to rebuild the infrastructure, build schools and help businesses get back up and running. https://virginislandsrelief.org
How can I donate supplies?
At this point in time, cash sent to local organizations is a far better donation than supplies. Donated goods require far more resources from nonprofits to process than cash, which allows them to purchase exactly what they need when they need it. Please read the email from St. John Community Foundation Director, Celia Kalousek, above.
How can I use my voice to help?
- Spread this article on your social media accounts.
- Spread posts and updates from the organizations mentioned in this article on your social media accounts.
- Bug the media to get more coverage for the devastation in the US Virgin Islands. Emailing to local affiliates and then following-up with a phone call has been a constructive avenue for some folks already.
- If you have contact with loved ones on St. John and they are sending you photos to post, make sure that the caption includes permission for the media to use. State something like this: “all pictures, quotes & content are available to the public domain with no fees or reservations”
- Members of the media are, in fact, looking for people on the island to talk to but the problem is the lack of communication. If you have contact with someone on the island who has cell service, leave a comment with your contact details and we will get you connected to someone in the media.
Major Help from Celebrity Friend
Kenny Chesney, who owns property on St. John and has had a longtime presence there, has helped organize efforts to get emergency responders there immediately. We have this glorious update as of 1:45 EST on 9/8:
Kenny Chesney’s guys are here!!! Cleared for one helo trip right now to STJ. They are at STX airport leaving now. Headed to St.John Clinic. They are loaded with chainsaws and supplies. We also have helos with 8-10 first responders on the next flight. Coral bay priority mission today for broadband equipment and tower restoration.
Here is an interview he did on the morning of 9/8 with Headline News.
We appreciate Kenny Chesney coming through for St. John when it counts the most!!!!! We need more generous and influential people to get behind the “Love for Love City” campaign.
The info to donate to Kenny Chesney’s Love for Love City campaign has just been published on his website. If you’d like to donate through Kenny, here is the link.
Are you into hashtags? Here are some to use:
#vistrong #lovecitystrong #vinice #usvinice #peoplepoweredvi #whattodovi
We will be adding more info and resources here continuously on how you can help!
Hurricane Irma Relief for St. Thomas and the British Virgin Islands
While St. Thomas and the British Virgin Islands were also devastated by the storm, our direct contacts are out of St. John. To be as accurate and effective as possible, we’re limiting this article to St. John for now.
If anyone has information on a similar consolidated effort to provide vetted information on how to help with Hurricane Irma relief on our neighboring Virgin Islands, please leave a comment with the details and your contact information.
Comments are moderated before publishing, so we will vet all answers and either publish as a comment and/or add to the body of the article.
Articles on donating effectively to disaster relief:
We will be updating this page continuously. Please leave a comment below with contact information if you have more information that should be posted on this page.
Thank you for loving St. John.