Our world has been facing frequent natural disasters in these past few weeks from earthquakes in Mexico, severe flooding in India, and Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Most recently one disaster hit close to home. Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc through the Caribbean and luckily didn’t do much harm to my parents’ home island of Antigua, but severely devastated Antigua’s sister island, Barbuda. Irma also closed in on the US Virgin Islands and didn’t damage St. Croix where a large majority of my family resides and where my mother grew up, but it did hit St. Thomas. We all felt very lucky that the worst of the storm missed my family. Then came hurricane Maria—a category 5 just like Irma—who this time hit very close to home and caused disaster in St. Croix, USVI, Puerto Rico, Dominica and other islands.
The only way we were able to contact family in St. Croix was over the phone, but island power had been turned off the day before and by then the storm was just beginning. The following morning, we received heart-shattering news about family member and also learned that the island had torn up. I saw photos and videos of the land around my grandpa’s house where the trees surrounding it were so lush, large, and green were now bare, broken, and empty. I saw the towns of Frederiksted and Christiansted look completely different from all the times I had been there. Every pole on the island had been knocked down and it had been projected that it be 5-6 months before power would be restored in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. It’s hard for me to see my very large family go through this and feeling helpless from up here.
St. Croix after Maria
We try to talk to family everyday when we can as telephone service is almost nonexistent and people are still unable to contact family on the island and over in the U.S. What upset me was how little light was shone on the wreckage the island had been through as the media outlets only discussed Puerto Rico; it was frustrating that my family and people which had suffered from Maria’s wrath, too, was not given as much attention. It was also sad to see that the two U.S. territories Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were not deemed important even though they are U.S. citizens. I clearly remember even when Irma hadn’t even hit the U.S. mainland, yet the news outlets couldn’t stop talking about the approach it was making for Florida and for the most part ignored that people in the Caribbean were going to get the worst. Then again, western media doesn’t care about something until it happens to them, so I wasn’t very surprised.
Luckily, where the news outlets failed to shine a light, people spoke up and have been helping. Basketball player Tim Duncan, a USVI native, had his organization working to help the island since Irma and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg even went down to the island; Governor Cuomo has been working with the FDNY and asking New Yorkers to send supplies to Puerto Rico. With all that has been going on in the world, this hurricane has kind of been scrambled in it, but I hope many people see the destruction, damage and suffering it has caused and lend a hand to help the people of Puerto Rico, USVI, and all of those devastated from these disasters. I also hope these disasters open people’s eyes to climate change and realize it’s real, it’s happening, and we are responsible for it.
Here are some links to donate to those affected and please DO NOT donate to the Red Cross:
Hurricane Maria recovery:
Mexico earthquake relief links: http://themexicoreport.com/2017/09/12/mexico-earthquake-relief-efforts-and-links-to-donate/