On September 6, Hurricane Irma slammed into the US Virgin Islands as a category 5 hurricane.The islands suffered severe wind and flood damage, reducing many areas to rubble. In light of the almost absolute devastation in the USVI, All Hands Volunteers sent an Immediate Response Team to St. Thomas. CEO Erik Dyson said, “Unfortunately, we aren’t big enough to be everywhere at once. But our model is all about meeting the greatest need as best we can. Our help is needed in the islands, so that’s where we’ll be.” Less than a month later, the team was evacuated due to Hurricane Maria, which struck the islands on September 20 as a Category 4 storm. Today, we are back on the ground to finish what we started and our operations have expanded to both St. Thomas and St. John.
After being evacuated from USVI, due to the development and landfall of Hurricane Maria, All Hands Volunteers returned to the islands as soon as conditions allowed to continue the work they started.
Our teams noted that conditions had significantly deteriorated from those prior to the landfall of Maria. Most schools are damaged and families with means are trying to leave for the states so their kids can continue to go to school. People are stressed, exhausted and traumatized, but at the same time, full of appreciation and gratitude when they see us.
We’re still in the Response phase, undertaking mucking-and-gutting, debris removal, chainsawing, and sanitation, however, we have undertaken school rebuild projects. Our efforts have expanded to both St. Thomas and St. John, where our teams will focus on providing aid to homeowners and schools where needed.
Our team has been joined on the ground by AmeriCorps, who will be working with us through February.
Norwegian Cruise Line set a goal to raise $2.5 million for All Hands Volunteers. This record-breaking donation, along with many others, has enabled us to make a 2-year commitment to building schools in the US Virgin Islands, Florida, Puerto Rico and Caribbean Islands, alongside our partner, the Happy Hearts Fund. As always, we are about staying for the long-term.
Please donate to our USVI program today, so that we can stay where we’re needed most until the job is done!