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How Locals Helped St. Croix Recover From the Devastation Left by Hurricane Maria

When Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2017, observers knew that the recovery would be difficult. Never before had two such powerful storms come through the territory in close succession, even if they took slightly different paths, in the end.

While none of the islands was forced to bear direct hits from both hurricanes, the two combined to do a huge amount of damage over a wide area. Residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands made an enormous difference by organizing recovery efforts that focused on places where particularly intense need was evident.

Partners in a local consulting firm like Kirk Chewning, for instance, started up a nonprofit called “Cane Bay Cares” that provided a great deal of much-needed aid and support. Efforts like that helped make the aftermath of a twofold natural disaster less perilous to residents.

Cane Bay Cares Steps Up to Help St. Croix

In addition to being one of the most populous islands in the territory, St. Croix is also home to many of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ most economically vulnerable residents. Although some parts of the island feature resilient infrastructure, others are simply not equipped with systems designed to withstand intense tropical storms.

When Hurricane Maria passed directly over St. Croix, the damage was every bit as profound as expected. That left many wondering whether a successful recovery effort could even be mounted, particularly given the struggles of islands like St. John elsewhere in the territory.

Fortunately, groups like Cane Bay Cares were successful at averting what could otherwise have been a true humanitarian disaster. Gathering up many tons of supplies paid for with generous donations, they were able to distribute water, food, medicine, and other essentials to needy people all over St. Croix.

Important Work That Made a Difference

Although there were still plenty of challenges to be overcome along the way, this show of support proved to be critical to getting the island and its residents back on track. Many had expected the toll from Hurricane Maria to rise a lot higher when the final reckoning was made, so seeing residents and others make such a difference was especially satisfying and welcome.

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