Recovery efforts in the Virgin Islands in the aftermath of massive Hurricane Irma have been interrupted by preparations for Hurricane Maria, the second major storm to hit the area in two weeks. Maria is entering the area today and is expected to impact all three of the main islands severely.
Ahead of Maria’s arrival, volunteer Mic Akin sent out an update on Catholic Charities of the Virgin Islands and the relief support it has received:
On an ongoing basis, CCVI operates soup kitchens as well as shelters for the homeless on both St. Croix and St. Thomas. Each Bethlehem House can house up to 40 men, women and children. Since Irma struck September 6, the St. Thomas shelter has been full. It has been operating with the help of two small generators that arrived by airlift from Catholic Charities in San Juan (Caritas Puerto Rico).
The St. Thomas shelter was even able to host the monthly free health clinic last Saturday. A totally volunteer effort by members of the St. Thomas medical community, the clinic was established a few years ago. Doctors, nurses, dentists, and other health providers, led by Dr. George Rosenberg, screen clients and provide immediate care and/or referrals, as needed.
St. Croix fared well in Irma, but it is expecting a direct hit from Maria, so the Bethlehem House shelter there began filling up Monday night and is now also at capacity.
Meanwhile, CCVI has increased its outreach and soup kitchen services on St. Thomas in the wake of Irma.
“We are serving between 200 and 300 people a day,” said CCVI executive director Andrea Shillingford. That’s a strain on what is always a very tight budget. So far, “the only assistance that we have received is from the Catholic Church and Catholic Charities USA.”
Submitted by Bernetia Akin