St. John,USVI - Long Term Recovery: Home Construct

by St. John Community Foundation
St. John,USVI - Long Term Recovery: Home Construct
St. John,USVI - Long Term Recovery: Home Construct
St. John,USVI - Long Term Recovery: Home Construct
St. John,USVI - Long Term Recovery: Home Construct
St. John,USVI - Long Term Recovery: Home Construct
St. John,USVI - Long Term Recovery: Home Construct
St. John,USVI - Long Term Recovery: Home Construct
St. John,USVI - Long Term Recovery: Home Construct
Outside of house in Grunwald St. John
Outside of house in Grunwald St. John

Slowly and surely we are getting there.  We were hoping the new year would of been the turning point to get our rebuild program back up to speed, unfortunately it has brough new challenges.   The global pandemic has affected materials and supplies from the cost of concrete to obtaining windows and doors and even permits. 

We are close to completing our 32 house in this program.  32 is a significant number as it surpases any rebuild project private or federally funded to date.  We feel that without this support these people would never receive the help they need.

As we get to the last homes we are getting to our most challenging clients and complete rebuilds.  House number 32 is no exception,  we are helping a senior that lives alone with her adult daughter.  Their home was mostly destroyed in Hurricane Irma and they are now living in what remains of the 500 square foot cinder block basement.   Upon obtaining permits to rebuild what was left, they learned that the original home was built in the wrong location and was built where the road was supposed to be, so they are in all practical purposes starting from the beginning.

The Long Term Recovery group has assisted with the supply of over 30 cubic yards of concrete and windows and doors for this client.  The home is almost ready however we are awaiting much needed sliding glass doors to arrive to.  We are hoping the doors arrive soon as we are entering hurricane season once again and the nightly rains will make it difficult for them to begin interior work.

Supplies such as windows, doors and shutters have been very difficult to source.  Our very reliable supplier out of Puerto Rico has suffered set backs due to COVID and we are now looking at a 4-5 month delay when ordering materials. 

Further challenges come from DPNR and the permitting process on St. John.  After 32 we have 2 more complete rebuilds.  Both of the homes were completely destroyed and despite being several hundred yards from the ocean and hundreds of feet above sea level, both homes had to undergo additional CZM ( Coastal Zone Management ) approval before we were able to begin with building permit applications.  We are hoping to start construction very soon, we have the contractors standing by however we are reluctant to pre-order materials until we know the building permits are approved.  

None of this hard work would be possible without your support.  Construction costs on St. John have sky rocketed and materials are extremely hard to come by.  The most difficult portion of this program is telling people that have lived in extremely poor conditions it may be a little longer before help arrives and that may mean going through another hurricane season.

Thank you for your support.

Doors are installed!
Doors are installed!
Awaiting on sliding glass doors to 'dry in'  #32
Awaiting on sliding glass doors to 'dry in' #32
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Senior home complete rebuild in Grunwald St. John
Senior home complete rebuild in Grunwald St. John

Construction has resumed on our housing project although at a different pace under restrictions of the pandemic.   The territory of the Virgin Islands has experienced 2  lockdowns due ot the COVID Pandemic and is headed into a third.This has resulted in delays in logistisc and permitingg. Permitting office is now open only 2 days a week since March and has put extra delays on an already lenghty process.

We are wrapping up a current project with a Senior called JN.  JN had permits in place prior to the Long Term Recovery getting involved but she needed further assistance than what was provided by FEMA post storm.   During the permitting process she discovered her home was never built in the correct spot to begin with and was actually built into where the road was supposed to be.   JN had to start from scratch but she is a very resilient individual herself and did not give up.  Working with the Long Term Recovery Team she had initated construction and began with the pouring of a concrete cistern and slab.   The community came together and donated 4 pallets of Concrete Block to construct the walls.   Assistance from individuals like yourselves helped the Long Term Recovery Team finish with the labor to build the walls, install windows and doors and pour a strong hurricane proof concrete roof for her to live in.  The contractors are waiting on the windows and doors to arrive and we are hoping she will be in her new home by Christmas.

Work has slowed down however the amount of homes and people in need has not changed.  The St. John Community Foundation's DIsaster Case management has identified 31 more homes that will not be repaired under any government program.  Some of these individuals have had to move on and have left their homes and the islands behind and some are still living in tents.

FEMA Hazard Mitigation Programs will provide some releift for these vulnerable seniors but limitation within the grant will not be able to entirely restore the properties or create some quality of life improvement for those that have already been through so much.   With your generous donation we can work with the community to make these damaged houses a home again.

Grunwald Home interior
Grunwald Home interior
Still over 30 displaced seniors on island.
Still over 30 displaced seniors on island.
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72 year old accomplished this with her own hands!
72 year old accomplished this with her own hands!

Life under the 'New Normal' is anything but normal on a small island of around 4000 people.  The impact of this global pandemic after being hit by two cat 5 hurricanes has greatly affected our community in all fronts of recovery including the economic and social.

The majority of the homes we are working on belong to Seniors who are particulary vulnerable to COVID-19.  To prevent putting these individuals at additional  risk construction has been put on hold during the lock down period.  As Puerto Rico is still under curfew shipments of building supplies have been impacted severly.  

 At this point we are just beginning the process of restarting construction.   We have 2 homes that were under construction when the 'stay at home' order was initiated in the Virgin Islands. Three more homes were in the pre-planning phases and have also suffered set backs as permitting offices have also reduced hours.  

As we move forward under the "new normal"  contractors are learning how to spread out their crews, offer portable handwashing stations on the jobsite and provding employees with masks.  Getting back to work has had more of an impact on our beneficiaries mental well being as we are opening up our island but heading into another hurricane season.

One senior ( aged 72 ) was so adamant about getting her home rebuilt she was tying rebar for her own foundation.   She managed to get her foundation started before running out of assistance from the federal government.   Through various donations we are working to get her a safe place built in time before hurricane season really begins to ramp up.  

It is difficult time for all of us but as a community we will prevail.

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Construction underway with beautiful view of Jost!
Construction underway with beautiful view of Jost!

A new year for the Resilient Housing Initiative (RHI) brings new challenges.   Two years and this as a collegue from Love City Strong, one of our partners puts it - is the longest running rebuild program in the territory.   To date the RHI Program has fixed or completely rebuilt 31 homes.  2 Homes are currently under construction and with have 9 more homes in the planning process.  

The programs has been an incredile success but not without facing many challenges.  The 9 homes in the planning process are some of our most difficult ones in terms of Disaster Case Management and Construction.   

Challenges include probate and deed issues with obtaining the proper building permits.  Most of these properties were passed down to family members generation to generation.  No one every questioned them if they owned their homes because they always lived there and everyone knew it.   Putting estates in probate is just something that was never considered and most of these families have little to no money to make ends meet make it happen.  One of our Disaster Case Managers received a deed written in Danish!  These issues ad to the all ready lengthy rebuild process.   

In terms of construction many of these nine homes are complete rebuilds - from the ground up. Some of these families have been renting homes since the storm and some have been living in tents and make shift 'shacks' to make ends meet.  Pulling together resources is what as St. Johnians we do best.  Funds from generous donors including an incredible 'in-kind' donation of shipping container homes give these families hope for their future.

The St. John Long Term Recovery Group is determined to seeing everyone get the help they need.  We have started a small jobs construction program to step in after the big rebuild programs to address safety and quality of life issues for seniors and disadvantaged members of our community.  With your help we can make a difference on St. John.

Case Manager meets with a beneficiary of RHI
Case Manager meets with a beneficiary of RHI
Still more to help -  living in tents 2 years on
Still more to help - living in tents 2 years on
Completed rebuilding this Coral Bay Duplex Home
Completed rebuilding this Coral Bay Duplex Home
Deed and estate probate issues pose a challenge
Deed and estate probate issues pose a challenge
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Project currently underway near Coral Bay, St John
Project currently underway near Coral Bay, St John

 Our partnership within the Resilient Housing Initiative continues to work on rebuilding homes for Seniors and those economically challenged within our community.    With 25 homes completed to date we are more than halfway to our goal of 42 homes.  We have 17 more homes under construction with 8 of those in the pre-planning / permitting stages.   

As the program continues to gain momentum our Disaster Case Management team sees new faces coming out from our community.  These individuals that have suffered through the storm and also suffered through the heart ache of trying to pick up the pieces themselves.   Stories of how difficult it is for Seniors to navigate federal aid programs and work with local contractors are plenty and we hear some stories of those that just give up trying.   Our Disaster Case Management team is constantly working to help fill the gaps with the unmet needs and assist our community with the referral services to help best.

This includes an emergency re-tarping program.  Our Disaster Case Management team in conjunction with the St. John - Long Term Recovery Group who supplied materials and  Love For Love City who brought in the labor - was able to get priority homes re-tarped for this years hurricane / rainy season.   This greatly helped relieve the anxiety of the seniors in our community, but we were not able to get to all of the homes.   There is still a great many people in our community that need your help!

We can not do this without your support!  

 

The STJ-LTRG assisted in getting homes retarped.
The STJ-LTRG assisted in getting homes retarped.
Building back stronger for the future!
Building back stronger for the future!
New Roof is on and meets new FEMA specs.
New Roof is on and meets new FEMA specs.
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Organization Information

St. John Community Foundation

Location: St. John, USVI, usa - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Celia Kalousek
Executive Director
St. John, USVI, usa United States
$584,876 raised of $1,000,000 goal
 
127 donations
$415,124 to go
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