Developing and improving community preparedness initiatives is a cornerstone of Love City Strong programming, and engaging with the residents of St. John is critical. This year, we have had the pleasure of combining our regularly scheduled community outreach events with food sales that highlight the skills of our local cooks and bakers.
Once a month, our team coordinates with vendors throughout the island to secure donations of local delicacies like soup, pastries, and homemade drinks. These treats not only help us raise funds, but also entice residents to learn more about how they can benefit from Love City Strong Programming, and get information about upcoming initiatives and events.
Funds generated from these pop-up sales, as well as generous donations from local businesses support our annual Hurricane Preparedness Fair, which will be held this year on May 6th. The “Prep Fair” boasts a DJ and live musical performances, disaster preparedness activities, and the opportunity to interact with representatives from non-profits, government departments, and businesses involved in various aspects of preparedness and response.
These pop-up events, and the annual Hurricane Preparedness Fair are both fun and informative. Love City Strong is committed to supporting our community before, during and after any impact, and it is so important that the faces of the response are familiar and trustworthy. If you are on island May 6th, please stop by Franklin Powell Park to enjoy the entertainment and learn about LCS programming. We hope you consider a donation to our year round preparedness initiatives, which enable us to further our mission for the community of St. John.
Love City Strong formed in the immediate aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and for the last 5 years our core mission has centered around community preparedness in St. John. We are acutely aware that the only constant is change, and we make every effort to be both proactive and flexible as we respond to hazards.
Each year we build upon existing programming, and incorporate new learnings to improve upon our preparedness and response capacity. Community engagement is critical to creating a more resilient environment, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed the landscape of how to safely interact, particularly with immunocompromised populations. In 2023, we look forward to more in person events that will incorporate all members of our community in conversations and activities to promote preparedness and resilience.
The main component of our community engagement campaign has long been our annual hurricane preparedness fair. Falling at the end of National Hurricane Preparedness Week each May, this day-long event provides an opportunity for residents to interact with Love City Strong, partner organizations, and government agencies on the topics of preparedness and mitigation. This year the event will feature food, music, and games and activities, as well as giveaways. Additionally, we continue to seek out in person continuing education and skill development training for staff and partners.
There are so many exciting opportunities for creative and impactful engagement that will help build upon the existing preparedness knowledge base in this community. We are grateful for the chance to share our work with you, and for your continued support of our programs. We wish you a healthy and happy new year!
As Love City Strong approaches 5 years since our inception, we are continually auditing ongoing and annual projects, as well as developing new programs to fill gaps in the community preparedness sector.
This year during hurricane season, we are busy offering services that we have been building upon for several years, and also launching new projects to better serve the residents of St. John.
Our “Ready in a Flash” program began in 2020 as a way to help residents organize back-ups of their important documents and store them on a flash drive, in the event that hard copies are damaged or destroyed. This year, we sponsored two pop-up events in the park, and did specific outreach to the senior population across the island.
In July of 2022, we launched a new program to assist community members in clearing debris from their property in order to mitigate potential damage in the event of a storm. We offer this service at no charge to the residents, and it is a big step towards making the island a safer and more resilient place.
Both of these activities are centered around supporting a more prepared and resilient community, and they also allow us the opportunity to connect with residents to help them access other recovery programs. Whether it is a Love City Strong project, government initiative, or an effort organized by one of our partners, we make sure to keep residents informed about options within the territory.
Our generous donors allow us to maintain and improve upon existing projects, and to continually add to the services we provide. We are so grateful for your continued support.
On May 14th, Love City Strong proudly hosted the first in-person Hurricane Preparedness Fair since 2019. We were joined by our nonprofit, government, and private sector partners including VITEMA, The American Red Cross, St. John Rescue, St. John COAD and the Small Business Development Center. Attendees enjoyed a variety of dishes provided by local vendors, a performance by the Dynamic Dancers, and activities to help kids build their own preparedness kits.
At LCS, preparedness is a year round practice. However, this is the time of year to be extra vigilant. Threats from hurricanes include powerful winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, tornadoes, and landslides. Hurricanes can often undergo rapid intensification, meaning they can quickly gain strength before and as they make landfall. For this reason, it’s important to begin preparation well in advance of an incoming storm.
Your continued support allows us maintain our existing hurricane season protocols, and develop new ways to engage with the community about the importance of preparedness. Resilient communities benefit from collaboration and cooperation. We are so grateful that you have chosen us as a recipient of your generosity.
Following the impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, Love City Strong’s mission developed to focus on immediate response and recovery to major hurricane impacts, as well as future preparedness for the same type of event. Since then, our preparedness programming has grown to include scalable solutions, as we’ve learned to tailor our responses to smaller hurricanes and tropical storms. In 2020, our anticipated shift towards a more all-hazards approach became necessarily more focused on pandemic preparedness and response as COVID-19 impacted the Territory.
Many lessons have been learned in the past two years about the way we prepare and respond in a COVID-era environment, but the core of our work remains constant. More than ever, the island’s ability to self-sustain in times of crisis is critical. We must continue to stay nimble in the face of climate change and related extreme weather, including not only increasingly intense tropical cyclones but also rising sea levels and increased periods of drought, as well as no-notice events like earthquakes and tsunamis.
In 2022 we will continue our community outreach efforts by updating our Immediate Needs Survey data, canvassing residents island-wide to assess their needs and their readiness for potential disasters. This data will be the basis for future programming specifically tailored to the needs of the community, and takes into account the data needs of our partners in the public and private sectors.
As always, the Go Team is responsible for all the data collection and reporting for this incredibly important project. They are currently conducting interviews over the phone, and driving across the island to reach as many residents as possible. Reliable and up to date data is crucial to the development of future programming, and none of our work would be possible without your continued support.
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