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St Croix, Invisible to the World, Thanks to the Media
I am writing to highlight the plight of the US Virgin Islands after receiving a devastating knock out from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The day before Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, it destroyed the US Virgin Islands, also called the American Paradise, a group of islands in the Caribbean located 40 miles (64 km) east of Puerto Rico. The US Virgin Islands consist of the main islands of St Croix, St John, St Thomas and Water Island.
Media coverage is almost zero for some strange reason. I have debated this question for years: ‘When a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?’ For years I’ve been flipping, “Yes, it made a sound and no, it didn’t.” But after the lack of coverage during and after the devastating effects that crippled St. Croix by Hurricane Maria, I will never debate (that question) again. Yes, if a tree fell in the forest, it made a sound. Although there is a lack of media coverage of this catastrophic storm, yes, Maria destroyed St. Croix.
Let’s go back to September 6, when Irma, a Category 5 hurricane, arrived, crushed and destroyed St. Thomas, St. John, British Virgin Islands and other Caribbean islands. All lines of communication were lost as families and friends flooded social media with prayers and tears, wishing they could hear a single word about their loved ones. Strangers cried as people sent frantic emotional messages about their loved ones. No one cared if the person was black or white, female or male, Muslim or Christian, straight or gay, Democrat or Republican, Trump lover or Trump hater, the gift of life was at stake and that’s all anyone cared about.
The next day, Thursday September 7, there was no social media post, no phone call, not even the two little blue check marks that normally appear on Whatsapp. Then on Friday, September 8th, I received a Whatsapp message: “Hello my friends and relatives. I am fine and so are my daughters. The island is in ruins. Thank God… we are alive. The hospital is damaged and about to be abandoned. I am now in work but all patients will be gone by tomorrow. Thanks for checking in. Keep praying. Love you! Stan.” to me that I finally got the news that there is still life on St. Thomas, but then water flooded my eyes, the lives of my loved ones remain in danger. I felt helpless and that is the worst feeling. there is no exact count yet, but Irma St. Thomas claimed some lives.
Irma transformed the world famous tourist destination, St. Thomas & St. John, in ruins. The roof of the hospital was ripped off and water was pouring in. Emergency operations began almost immediately to airlift patients from St. Thomas to Puerto Rico and St. Croix. While relief was on the way for the patients, the Crucians felt a burning desire to do something to help their sister islands. People from St. Croix began rescue operations and loaded the ships with crates of bottled water, food, clothing, generators and whatever else they could get their hands on to take to St. Thomas. The Crucians even set up temporary restaurants on St. Thomas to serve people hot, fresh food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On the way back to St. Croix were some people from St. Thomas and St. John transported to St. Croix. Their efforts continued until the alarm sounded that a Category 5 hurricane was on its way to St. Croix with winds over 165 mph.
The night of September 19 was the second longest night of my life. I stayed up crying all night just imagining the devastation of Hurricane Maria. It throws off galvanized roofs, breaks electricity poles, uproots large mahogany trees, floods people’s homes and crushes everything in its path. I began reliving 28 years ago when I witnessed Hurricane Hugo visit and devastate St. Croix. It was my worst experience at the time. It was the longest night of my life. I was 15 years old and I remember around 10pm the roof just came off and within seconds all I could see was a black sky and the sound of galvanizing collapsing in the gushing wind. My parents, my 5 brothers and I stayed close to each other as we ran to our second house which was unfinished. We hid behind the walls. Our house had a finished roof but no windows or doors. And my dad didn’t board up the windows before the storm. After the hurricane ended, the roof of that house remained intact, thank God. That night my mom and I slept on a plywood board on a wet, cold concrete floor. The next morning, the island resembled the remains of a battlefield. The entire landscape was a rusty brown, as if the entire island had been set on fire by a vicious team of gangsters, houses reduced to rubble, trees broken from their foundations or uprooted. A curfew was enforced. I remember sitting on the steps and waiting for a military truck to pull up and drop off the food. I happily ran down the road and happily told them how many people there were in my family and the soldiers gave me a box of well-wrapped food. We were out of school for approximately 2 months and over 6 months without electricity or running water.
During those times, a tear never fell from my eyes, all I wanted was to survive. However, 28 years later, tears welled up in my eyes, fear of the unknown, and frustratingly, there was not a word in the mainstream media that Hurricane Maria had directly hit St. Croix.
Most of us on the mainland tuned in to CNN, FOX, ABC NEWS, but on St. Croix was not a word. As if St. Croix didn’t exist. Yes, Maria devastated St. Croix and 2 days later I found out that Maria also devastated the already devastated islands of St. Thomas and St. John. So the question is, “If the media doesn’t report something, did it happen? Don’t think about it, let me answer the question: “Yes, Hurricane Maria destroyed the US Virgin Islands along with Puerto Rico and other Caribbean Islands.
On September 6, President Donald Trump tweeted that he had spoken with Governor Kenneth Mapp of the Virgin Islands and “We are with you all!” That was the message regarding Hurricane Irma. I’m not sure if President Trump was informed that Maria hit St. Croix, but in any case, I want President Trump and the American people to know that the US Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John) have been destroyed by the evil eye apple of IRMA and MARIA.
About 107,000 people live in the Virgin Islands, a diverse group of mostly English-speaking people.
I and other Virgin Islanders who reside in the US (mainland) would like to request media coverage of this devastated area which is a tourist destination that caters to over 2.6 million people who visit annually.
In conclusion, as a direct result of Hurricane IRMA and MARIA, many homes in the Virgin Islands have been flooded and are roofless or have collapsed walls. Many roads are impassable due to flooding, downed trees and downed power poles. Many homes are without electricity and access to safe drinking water.
The media is not only an important part of society, but it is the “watchdog” responsible for giving hope to the voiceless. In this case it is missing. Why? WE NEED ACTION NOW!
Note: This was not an article to complain, but to explain the severity of the state of damage and the lack of attention for Americans in America’s Paradise.
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