Posted on October 13, 2017
Update Oct 13th, 8:00am
Good Morning and Friday the 13th!! Don't step on any cracks today ;)
I am happy to be able to send you more updates after a very productive and incredibly quick 3 hour trip to VG yesterday! I've posted photos of my trip on the VG Relief Supply Fund Facebook page - please check it out! What you'll see is a lot of damage still being worked on but SO much work being done too! New roofs going on villas, businesses, and private homes. The Virgin Gorda employees from the power company along with some 20-30 volunteers and community helpers are working tirelessly to supply power. Keep in mind that ALL of the power on VG at this time is by the efforts of the community members and the island's power employees who took it upon themselves to set up our own grid by rigging generators and feeding lines from there. The Spanish Town water plant is operational and pumping water (photos of it are on our Facebook post). North Sound's water plant is cleaned up and ready for power (according to Vern Wheatly in a meeting yesterday) which is challenging with the damaged lines. North Sound is working hard and probably the area in VG in the most need of assistance from the BVI Government (in my opinion). Your amazing outpouring to VG has provided VGROC the opportunity to support other islands - Anegada is receiving aid from VG and the excess clothing and supplies are being donated to those who are far less fortunate in Dominica.
Yesterday afternoon, a group from VGROC came to a meeting with the Premier, Dr. Smith at the airport. I had the pleasure of being in this meeting and listening to the volunteers for VGROC tell him what they need and how much they want to be a part of the solution to work with the government. Transitions after this can be challenging and the Premier thanked VGROC for being so successful for organizing Virgin Gorda and all of their efforts. He also stated that he would ensure a cooperative forward movement as the BVI Government gets back online. Major efforts are being made by the community of VG to get schools online. Donations of books, bags, school supplies, and teaching materials are helping to get public and private schools mobilized. The damages to the public schools is significant and is being addressed by both the Ministry of Education and the concerned community members. Student and teacher safety should be the most important concern as mold is a significant problem.
There are challenges too - lots of clearing still needs to happen - trash is piling up in some places because it is hard to get trucks to take the debris to the dump. Unfortunately, it is collecting around the Savannah Bay area in very large piles. The VG Airport was closed for a few days due to the Customs and Immigration employees not feeling the space was adequate to work out of. VGROC has spent countless hours volunteering to get this space prepared for ASSI and again so that Customs and Immigration employees will come to work. THANK YOU to that team of volunteers for working so hard!
Speaking of Customs and Immigration: Now that they are getting back to work and re-establishing the usual systems, you should know that regardless of your intent to assist or volunteer or if you have a home or other interest in the BVI, you could run into challenges with these offices. If you have a work permit, residential status, or Landholders permit - it is recommended that you go ahead and purchase a return ticket and have it with you. Even though this is legally not required, there has been some missinterpretation of these laws that are hanging up good samaritans. Communication about the volunteer programs between the Ministry of Health (for professional volunteers with legal entry to work for clinics and hospitals) and these departments is not very clear and some of you amazing people are running into challenges. Please know that you are appreciated by everyone in the community and these frustrations are being voiced publicly and worked out as fast as possible. Thank you for your patience!
The island is going GREEEEEN! There have been weather systems moving across the islands making is quite soggy but has filled cisterns and brought out new buds of gorgeous green leaves and grass! Yesterday was STUNNING! The water was insanely clear and beautiful and the hillsides are recovering. The island has made such wonderful positive strides in the first 5 weeks after this tragedy. Now we are fully in our recovery and rebuilding stage. We will be better than ever and all because of your help and support! Words cannot express our thanks for what you have facilitated. All we can do is show you soon what we've done because of it and show you the time of your life on the little rock that you helped to put back together.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!