Thank You, Mr. Twain!
And we can't thank the many people who have reached out to us to offer love, support and assistance. The BIG players like FEMA, American Red Cross, SBA, US Marine Corps, The BBC and WAPA crews, Bloomberg and Kenny Chesney and Love City Strong and on and on. And the individuals; whether you dropped an encouraging note, commented on a post, sent an anonymous care package with a love note (Tootsie Pops!) or a generator: knowing that there are people out there who are so good at heart helps give us here in Love City the strength to exemplify what our community is all about as work through the myriad challenges that nature has presented to us.
Those of you who know us won't be surprised that we give a shout out to the Gifft Hill School, who opened the doors with what staff they could gather, tuition free, to the kids whose public school was converted to a shelter. To my fellow restaurateurs: Our food donations really helped morale and it's amazing to get Red Cross food garnished with fresh pesto. The national news doesn't often take the time to tell the stories, but from where I sit, there is so much positivity, empathy and love in the air, that feels like new skin: hypersensitive, but healing.
There is no way we could be on as strong a path to full recovery without all of you.
If you are thinking of visiting, what we need is tourism. What we've got is several hundred people working together to fit the puzzle pieces back together. Caneel Bay Resort and The Westin have serious damage and will not be available this winter. We had perhaps 1100 rental villas on the island, most are being repaired or rebuilt, so if you are looking for accommodations, look into these. The key issue of course is power, and as the efforts ramp up, most feel the grid will be restored by Christmas. Each day more lights come on. As we rebuild, this means generators to pump water, run lights and fans and in the later evenings, feeling very close to nature. Bring some 'smores. As a good friend said: Sometimes it's good to separate your needs from your wants. We might run out of Grey Poupon, but it's an island you know, so just go with it.
We continue to move forward in our recovery and it's if you're living here, it's a weird mix of frustration, euphoria, exasperation, and fatigue. Some lost all, and everyone lost something. If you went through the storms, and the aftermath, recovery is a slow moving process on the emotional front, much like grieving. It's going to take some time. But St. John has very deep roots, and the beaches and the breezes and the people are till here. We are resilient and grateful and look forward to looking back on what it means to be a St. Johnian in a disaster area; to telling all the stories of courage and kindness and faith. There is something lost and something gained in living every day (Joni Mitchell). We've lost some things. But we haven't lost the idea of who we are here in our splendid tropical paradise. In the most important ways, Love City is stronger than ever. Come Visit!
Michael & Barbara Barry