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Hurricane Irma Relief Fund

by GlobalGiving's Disaster Recovery Network
Hurricane Irma Relief Fund
Hurricane Irma Relief Fund
Hurricane Irma Relief Fund
Hurricane Irma Relief Fund
Photo from Donna Callejon
Photo from Donna Callejon

The resilient and proud residents of the US Virgin Islands continue to rebuild nearly two years after two devastating back to back hurricanes in the fall of 2017.  On September 20th, Hurricane Maria charged over St. Croix, less than two weeks after Hurricane Irma took its toll on St. Thomas and St. John. The funds you provided have assisted in rebuilding homes and businesses, providing psychosocial support, re-establishing health and wellness facilities, have supported community- and youth-led efforts to improve marine resilience, and more.  

 

For nine days in June, I had the chance to spend time on these three beautiful islands, each of which is slowly recovering, physically and emotionally. Below I’ll highlight each island, hoping to share some insights into these three unique and special communities.

 

The southernmost USVI, St. Croix, is often first to be struck during hurricane season.  Even without the devastation caused by 180 MPH winds and landslides, the social sector on this oasis has a lot of work to do. St. Croix has a long history as a trading center (remember, Alexander Hamilton came to NY from St. Croix). It was offered up by the territorial government as a place to locate manufacturing plants. For years, an oil refinery and aluminum plant contaminated the ocean, groundwater, and air, eroding mangrove estuaries and choking agriculture as a viable business for locals. Currently two rum distilleries (in full disclosure, one owned by GlobalGiving’s partner Beam-Suntory) are in full operation, working with the community to reduce their environmental impact.

 

Those trends are beginning to reverse themselves due to leaders like Sommer Sibiliy-Brown of VI Good Food Coalition. VIGFC is working with farmers to build their skills and knowledge of sustainable farming techniques, providing much-needed equipment, and helping to create viable businesses. We visited Sejah Farm, and had the chance to hear directly from Dale and Yvette Brown about the impact of climate change and storms on their farms.  They shared with us their tireless work spent on rebuilding and helping others do so as well (we also sampled the freshest, spiciest arugula you’d ever hope to taste). Three days later, President and Secretary Clinton visited with Sommer and the St. Croix Foundation team to see the first of a dozen “Farm Tiendas,” or portable “farm stands” that are being constructed.  These market stands will provide an outlet for farmers to distribute fresh produce (and more) to people across the island.

 

From St. Croix I traveled to the Clinton Global Initiative Action Network gathering on St. Thomas.  This convening boasted nearly 500 disaster recovery and resilience practitioners. Thanks to your support, GlobalGiving was proud to join representatives of the three Long Term Recovery Groups, who will be fiscally sponsored by the St. Croix Foundation, to make a commitment to provide $250,000 in funding so that these groups can reach more families currently waiting for assistance.

 

On St. Thomas alone, there are more than 5,000 people waiting to have a case worker assigned to help them navigate rebuilding their homes and livelihoods, to access counseling or job training, and to work as their advocates with public and private insurance and rebuilding agencies. Imani Daniel, Executive Director of the St. Thomas Recovery Team, has been at the forefront of the effort to help the most vulnerable people in her community after hurricanes Irma and Maria. “GlobalGiving’s support enables us to say ‘yes, we can help’ to our neighbors who’ve heard ‘no’ far too many times. GlobalGiving’s approach is worth investing in; it should be considered the model for the future of disaster recovery collaboration.” said Daniel.

 

Once the CGI summit concluded, I was ready to take the short ferry to St. John, a place I visited as a tourist nearly a decade ago.  Arriving into the bustling Cruz Bay dock at sunset, I was reminded why it has become home to so many mainlanders attracted by the island vibe, vibrant local culture and nearly 15,000 acres of national park.  

 

St. John has only a fraction of the population compared to its sister islands, but suffered the same crippling blow in 2017.  Power was nearly non-existent for months. Fishermen struggled to regain livelihoods as their boats were smashed to pieces by the category five winds of Hurricane Irma. Hundreds of homes were damaged. Curvy, hillly roadways were blocked by trees and wires, making cross-island travel challenging.

 

On St. John I met with all of the primary leaders of the Resilient Housing Initiative - The St. John Community Foundation, St. John Angels Long Term Recovery Group, Love City Strong, and All Hands and Hearts.  After a long day volunteering with All Hands and Hearts, I spent the following day visiting with long time, local homeowners still coping with the aftermath of the storm (19 months later!) and hoping that their family homes will soon be habitable again. 

 

One example was Carmen, whose father built the home in which she raised her four daughters.  Due to a variety of technicalities, Carmen had been waiting for her roof to be replaced for nearly 20 months.  The day I visited, the crew from Love City Strong was there, having been called into action by a Long Term Recovery Group case worker. Examples like this one demonstrate the power donors like you can play in improving the lives of others.

 

We will continue to bring you stories of resilience and strength from these beautiful, special United States islands.



Warmly, 

Donna + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo of Sejah Farms owner from Donna Callejon
Photo of Sejah Farms owner from Donna Callejon
Photo with Secretary Clinton from CGI
Photo with Secretary Clinton from CGI
Photo of Donna volunteering alongside AHAH
Photo of Donna volunteering alongside AHAH
Photo of SJCF assisting a homeowner from Donna
Photo of SJCF assisting a homeowner from Donna
Photo from St. Thomas Recovery Team
Photo from St. Thomas Recovery Team

In the year and a half since Hurricane Irma devastated cities and towns across the Caribbean, our nonprofit partners have made tremendous progress leading recovery efforts and improving the resiliency of their communities as they prepare to withstand future natural disasters.

After conducting a Nonprofit Disaster Recovery and Capacity Assessment last year, the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development learned that more than 90% of nonprofits surveyed on the island experienced hurricane-related damage to their facilities. At the same time, nearly 70% of these nonprofits reported an increased demand for their services. In response, the foundation will be supporting a 12-member AmeriCorps VISTA Team that will provide programmatic, technical, research, and outreach assistance to St. Croix's nonprofit community.

Project Promise has taken a holistic approach to disaster recovery on St. Croix over the past year. Their community service projects focused on rebuilding efforts across the island, including planting a grove of coconut trees to aid in the coastline restoration and bringing students from Howard University to the island as part of an alternative spring break program which tackled three rebuilding projects in a single day. They've also provided trauma intervention services to residents still coping with the psychological and emotional trauma experienced during Hurricanes Irma and Maria through their St. Croix Trauma Intervention & Relief Project.

We're happy to share that one of the leaders of our Irma recovery partners, Imani Daniel of the St. Thomas Recovery Team, was selected as a member of the first class of Disaster Feedback Fellows of the Disaster Recovery Network at GlobalGiving. She joined nine other fellows from community-based nonprofits to spend a week in Washington, D.C. this past October learning from each other, promoting their disaster recovery projects to peers and funders, and speaking at and attending the 2018 Feedback Summit.

Your generosity has helped make these stories—and so many more—possible. Thank you for supporting community-led disaster recovery efforts after Hurricane Irma. We can't wait to share more updates on the impact of your donation in the months to come.

 

With gratitude,
Will + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo from Project Promise
Photo from Project Promise

This week marks one year since Hurricane Irma unleashed 160 mph winds and torrential rains across the Caribbean, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. The storm claimed more than 100 lives and its catastrophic damage made it the fifth-costliest tropical cyclone in history.

Our community-led nonprofit partners quickly responded, and they've remained hard at work over the past year, striving toward a complete recovery with generous support from GlobalGivers like you. To date, 14,404 of you have raised an incredible $2.9 million to support 12 vetted nonprofits that provided emergency relief in the days and weeks following Hurricane Irma and have now transitioned into long-term recovery work.

To mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Irma and support crucial ongoing recovery efforts, we're launching a matching campaign that will provide a 100% match to donations to our vetted nonprofit partners continuing to help the people of the Caribbean recover and rebuild.

Since our last report, your donation has provided vital support to a wide range of long-term recovery work, with a focus on repairing and replacing damaged homes, reopening schools, and improving the ability of communities to withstand future storms:

  • Project Promise is repairing and renovating their 1,110 square-foot working classroom and community space that hosts a range of programs serving at-risk youth and their families in St. Croix.
  • St. Croix Foundation for Community Development is organizing a consortium for nonprofits across the Virgin Islands focused on strengthening the sector and expanding its capacity to effectively respond to future natural disasters.
  • In the British Virgin Islands, Team Rubicon Global is rebuilding and outfitting community centers which double as emergency shelters during storms and working to improve coordination between nonprofits and government agencies.
  • Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI)’s Jr. Angels Program is involving youth in local philanthropy, working with them to identify community needs, propose solutions, and explore funding options. CFVI is also coordinating volunteer opportunities for local high school students to provide community service at local nonprofits involved with recovery efforts.
  • On the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, the Barbuda Recovery & Conservation Trust, with the Waitt Institute and International Community Foundation, is building and installing storm shutters for more than 100 homes, and the Antigua and Barbuda Students Association is rebuilding and repairing damaged schools and stocking their classrooms with new supplies.

Thank you again for your generous support of our Hurricane Irma Relief Fund, and for making the smart decision to donate cash to fund an effective, community-led approach to disaster recovery. We'll be back in your inbox in the coming months with more stories of progress toward a full recovery for people throughout the Caribbean.

Warmly,
Will Frechette + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo from CFVI
Photo from CFVI
St. Croix Foundation for Community Development
St. Croix Foundation for Community Development

It’s been nearly eight months since Hurricane Irma left a trail of destruction across the Caribbean, and while first responders from larger NGOs have mostly departed affected areas, the focus of the community-led organizations that remain at work has shifted to long-term recovery. Your generous donation to our Hurricane Irma Relief Fund continues to support those locally driven organizations that understand their community’s needs and are able to effectively lead ongoing recovery efforts.

In this update, I’d like to report on the work of four organizations that your donation has helped fund over the last several months across the Caribbean.

After the St. Croix Montessori School suffered significant damage from Hurricanes Maria and Irma, the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development set to work coordinating building repairs and an expansion of the school’s programs to serve an influx of students from across the Virgin Islands. With support from GlobalGiving donors, they’ve been able to repair and reopen the school, run educational workshops for parents, and organize 100 volunteers to build a new playground from recycled downed trees, telephone poles, and tires to provide a beautiful, inspiring place for children in St. Croix to play for years to come.

Fishing for Families in Need partnered with local leaders on the island of St. John in the Virgin Islands to assess the community’s recovery needs and supported repairs to the Gifft Hill School and funded direct micro-grants to affected families.

When natural disasters like Hurricane Irma hit, hygiene and sanitation supplies play a vital role in stopping the spread of disease. Jake’s Diapers has worked with partners in Haiti to deliver more than 4,900 cloth diapers to maternal health clinics, 3,900 disposable diapers for use in neonatal intensive care units, and more than 1,200 adult hygiene supplies to stock a cholera treatment center.

Team Rubicon Global’s volunteer network of military veterans deployed to seven Caribbean islands in the immediate aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria—some teams arrived as soon as 48 hours after landfall—and delivered emergency supplies and aid to more than 24,000 survivors. In recent months, their teams have returned to the islands to train and equip community volunteers to develop community-level disaster response plans and improve the resilience and sustainability of local infrastructure ahead of future storms. 

Thank you again for your generous support of these and more than a dozen other vetted GlobalGiving partners committed to a full, community-led recovery across the Caribbean after Hurricane Irma. Watch for more stories of progress in your inbox in the coming months!

Warmly,
Rachel + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo from Team Rubicon
Photo from Team Rubicon

Hurricane Irma was one of the strongest hurricanes seen in the Atlantic. With devastating winds up to 180 mph, the 650 mile-wide storm left a path of destruction across the Caribbean and several states in the mainland U.S. Irma not only devastated homes, schools, and infrastructure—it wreaked havoc on the environment in a region with an abundance of flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world.

Today we’re proud to share four stories from our partners working some of the worst-hit Caribbean communities that demonstrate how your support has fueled recovery efforts focused on environmental restoration and psychosocial support.

  • In the wake of Irma’s destruction, Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) is not only rebuilding their headquarters office and staff housing, they’re also resuming their projects protecting plant and wildlife species native only to St. Maarten. EPIC has resumed their environmental presentations and excursions with local schools, educating students on the importance of biodiversity and explaining the hurricane’s far-reaching environmental impact.
  • Team Rubicon volunteers were on the ground just days after Hurricane Irma devastated the region to join search and rescue efforts, but have since shifted their focus to preparing local residents and storm-proofing shelters for future storms. In the British Virgin Islands, Team Rubicon has been collaborating with the city of Tortola’s Ministry of Education to help with debris removal and building plywood classrooms for local schools.
  • Project Promise, a program of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI), provides a safe and supportive environment that empowers at-risk youths in St. Croix who’ve experienced trauma due to the storm. Their holistic approach includes trauma-focused group therapy with local licensed professionals, opportunities for creative expression, and yoga as a means of stress relief. Anna Scarbriel from CFVI recently stopped by our D.C. office to meet with our team and speak to our followers in an interview on Facebook Live—check it out!
  • Barbuda Recovery and Conservation Trust is partnering with local agencies supporting animal and habitat recovery efforts, such as the Codrington Lagoon National Park in Barbuda. Their partnership is focused on restoring local lagoon ecosystems and documenting Irma’s impact on the populations of local animal species.

Thank you for your generous support, and for making the smart decision to give cash (and not stuff) after a disaster like this one—it allows your support to be put to use immediately. And if you’re looking to continue supporting recovery efforts, all the projects supporting Hurricane Irma relief, and many more, are competing for bonus prizes during our 2017 Year-End Campaign, so your donation could help earn a project extra funds!

We’ll be back in your inbox soon with more stories of progress from our partners continuing to support local communities as they rebuild in Irma’s aftermath.

Warmly,
Rachel + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo from EPIC
Photo from EPIC
 

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$3,018,635 raised of $3,100,000 goal
 
16,404 donations
$81,365 to go
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