Relief drive for St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Downtown Christiansted lost roofs, power and experienced flooding from category five Maria on Sept 19-20. — photo by DeVaughn Farrington

Residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands are in need of relief after being hit by two major hurricanes this month. On Tuesday, Sept. 5, Irma devastated the Leeward Islands including St. Thomas and St. John with sustained 185 mph winds. St. Croix, spared that day, became the center for island relief efforts, donating many of their own supplies until taking a nearly direct hit overnight Sept. 19-20 by Hurricane Maria.

The eye of the category five storm passed as close as 10 miles southwest of the island with sustained winds of 175 mph. According to residents and news outlets, there is extensive damage; roofs have been ripped from their foundations, leaving many homes and businesses uninhabitable. Heavy rains have caused flooding and standing water — ideal conditions for mosquito larva to thrive. Power lines are down throughout the island.

Maria’s eye moves past St. Croix late Tuesday, Sept. 19 into early Wednesday morning. — image from NOAA

We’re asking for a little bit of help to reduce the burden for Cruzans. Little Village and the Longfellow Elementary student council are collecting new, fully packaged alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C, D and 9-volt) and unopened, non-aerosol insect repellents. Two local companies, Raining Rose (Cedar Rapids) and Simply Soothing (Columbus Junction) have also donated boxes of natural repellent that will be sent with supplies collected from the public.

A bit of context for this drive: I spent my pregnancy and my son Woody’s first year on the island. His grandparents — my parents — are business owners and long-time residents. Woody’s father is an attorney on St. Croix. It is my child’s first home and his paradise. It is home and paradise for many — over 50,000 people live there.

Drop-off for donated items will be at the Little Village office, 623 S Dubuque St, Iowa City, Monday–Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. through Oct. 4. Please note that any supplies not meeting requirements will not be sent and may be donated locally in Johnson County.

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