After what has seemed like months of churning, Hurricane Irma is no more. Downgraded to a Tropical Storm on her inland jaunt through Trump country, Irma’s legacy will be years of rebuilding throughout the Caribbean and Florida. While most of the Sunshine State escaped the worst-case scenarios, we all understand that a small shift in her track could have decimated the built-up centers of Tampa or Miami on an unprecedented scale.
Unfortunately, that decimation happened in St. Martin, Anguilla, Barbuda, St. Barts, the Turks and Caicos, and the US and British Virgins (and a few other islands), and the effort is just getting underway to help people who won’t have communications, power or water for weeks. We’ve been following several relief efforts, but the most awesome info comes from Gunboat exec Nils Ericson and the folks at East Island Excursions, who’ve organized a Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico evacuation effort they’ve nicknamed ‘Operation Dunkirk’. Please donate here to help the effort, and here’s an update from last night. UPDATE: The New York Times picked up the PR rescue story here. UPDATE 2: A smaller effort led by yacht hauler John Woodruff is on its way south to begin digging out Florida boats and yacht clubs; donate money or gear here.
By today’s end we will have organized a total of 7 trips to STT/STJ, delivering over $20k in supplies and evacuating about 300 people. Tomorrow, we have 6 (!) more boats delivering supplies and evacuating another +/-300 folks.
We have set up tents to serve as staging areas for supplies. If anyone wants to send supplies, send it to us here at Puerto del Rey marina in Fajardo. We’ll make sure it gets to the right island. We depart daily around 8am and can transport whatever or whoever is going (more or less). PM me for details.
I don’t see a horizon yet. The reports from people on the ground is totally heart-wrenching, and normalcy is seemingly NOT returning. The gov’t in the Virgin Islands has failed the people and outside help is still needed. Fajardo is virtually 100% intact, the fuel docks have fuel, and flights are operating out of San Juan airport.
Today, private flights were allowed in and out of STT today. Hopefully the St. Thomas airport will reopen to commercial traffic soon and ferries will begin normal operation (relieving us of duty) but for now we plan to stay on the throttle.
I’m hoping to get up the road tomorrow to STJ and get eyes on my house and Soma, and hug some friends. It feels selfish to think of my own needs, but I have to say goodbye to Sailboat Soma in person.
And another update from this morning:
Alright St. John, we are coming to get you! We have departures organized throughout the day, and throughout the week. Be patient, be kind, work together, women and children first. You will ALL get off, we aren’t stopping until everyone is safe and secure. To stateside family, do what you can to spread the word to your loved ones on island. If anyone on island gets this message, spread the word. We won’t get everyone at one time, so please be patient. We want to fill every seat, but we want it to be a safe process for everyone. Love city.
TOMORROW’S EVAC SCHEDULE!!!
Island Flyer (40 pax): 9-10am, Cruz Bay to PR
Caribe Spirit (70 pax): 9-10am, Cruz Bay to PR
Bad girl (24 pax): 12pm, Coral Bay to STX
Betty Ann (36pax): 12:30-2pm, Cruz Bay to STX
Milemark (36pax): 12:30-2pm, Cruz Bay to STX
Adventurer* (~40 pax): 2:30-3:00pm, Coral Bay to STX