Group of friends working to bring hurricane relief to US Virgin Islands

Photo of group of friends working to bring hurricane relief to the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Provided Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Thousands of people are stranded and are without power on the island of St. John, that’s part of the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. With Maria bearing down on the islands again, help may be delayed even longer. One organization started by four friends; a former carpenter, a nurse, a property manager and a boat captain, are aiming to get help to that region as soon as possible.

If you’ve ever been to the shores of the US Virgin or British Virgin Islands, you have experienced the beautiful landscapes of those islands.

Irma was the strongest hurricane to hit the Virgin Islands, with winds reaching over 220 miles per hour. In its wake, it left a post-apocalyptic trail of devastation. Trees and telephone poles were snapped in half; the storm decimated businesses, and left up to 80 percent of the population without habitable homes.

St John is mostly a national forest, which makes it very hard for recovery. Some estimate the island could be without power for up to nine months.

That’s where resident and director for Virgin Island Relief Fund Matt Atkinson and his friends come in to provide assistance. While vising family on the US mainland,  the group decided to do everything they could to help fellow islanders on both St. John and St. Thomas and also the British Virgin Islands.

They’ve gather hundred and thousands of pounds of supplies. Those supplies which are most needed are chainsaws, generators and water. With Maria ripping through the region again last night, they’re now looking at heartbreak again.

“The statements I’ve heard from people down there are horrific many levels of hell or what not,” says Atkinson. “Having a helpless feeling of not knowing where the next a source of relief is coming from not knowing when the next boat is going to be landing on the island to the dock to help people to evacuate. There was a massive evacuation [Tuesday]. We worked with private planes and the US Coast Guard, but its sheer terror is what they’re describing.”

For the last week or so, the staging point for much of the relief has been on Saint Croix bringing supplies by boat. Last report was winds of more than 145 miles per hour were being recorded off of St Croix’s western shore. Soon Saint Croix may need relief as well.

Atkinson says they are asking for monetary donations because it allows them to purchase the supplies and have it shipped which is much easier than trying to transport supplies down to the island.