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Words by: Eddie Webber

It is nearly inconceivable as I sit here, that another hurricane, Maria, is heading toward our beloved Caribbean islands.  I am thinking about my work with Caribbean POSH Magazine and the thousands of people who have come to know our islands and what we want to accomplish with our lives, through our publication.  I offer a little background on what has happened in the past two weeks, to help readers understand what we are going through:

Hurricane Irma, officials and others that have been interviewed tell us, inflicted such severe damage that the situation in the British Virgin Islands is horrendous, while the areas of St. Martin have been nearly completely destroyed. "I have never  been so scared  in my life, I really thought we all were going to die" - said Janette Brin, Publisher & Founding Editor of Caribbean POSH.

This storm left a trail of destruction and debris in Haiti, Cuba, and Puerto Rico has claimed more than 30 lives in the Caribbean and more than 10 in the U.S. There are no illusions that we are under the most traumatic event in our lives, and yet there is hope.  There is always hope.  For example, other countries are pitching in to help:  St. Lucia has agreed to house prisoners from the Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands, after the storm damaged the prisons in those British territories.  U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, visiting the islands, called the islands, “A scene of utter devastation,” and announced $33 billion dollars in extra aid for its territories.

It is extremely difficult to live under the conditions where everyone is stressed, hungry, and confused; lack of sleep and constant vigilance for the next round of whatever can happen adds to the level of anxiety.  In St. Thomas, desperation hit a new high when people began fighting and jostling each other for food and water in the long lines that have been formed to pass out much needed assistance.  The looting too, is something that desperation creates.  There are no illusions about “man’s inhumanity to man,” at such times.  While military relief operations and security patrols are arriving, it does not reach everyone equally.  A curfew has been imposed on the British Virgin Islands, to curb the breakdown of law and order.  Meanwhile there are reports of vile individuals accosting residents of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands with machetes and guns and breaking into homes.

French President, Emmanuel Macron promised to quickly rebuild St. Martin.  Dutch King Willem-Alexander said the destruction he saw in St. Martin was, “On a scale I have never seen before.”  The storm’s 185 mph winds hammered a string of tiny Caribbean islands that are territories of the various countries in Europe and the United States.  Homes, hotels, hospitals, marinas, and airports suffered major damage.  These are the facilities that literally give our islands the business lifeblood that we have come to rely on.  Puerto Rico has come off as heroic.  Saddled with economic problems and its own damage from Hurricane Irma, Puerto Rico is taking thousands of refugees from the U.S. Virgin Islands whose homes were destroyed by the storm, with a cruise ship carrying up to 2,000 more sailing for the U.S. territory.

I can tell you first hand, that every leaf was ripped off every tree and shrub.  We did not know if we would live or die and it is truly a miracle that we survived.  We have been through hell on earth.  The landscape, once the most beloved part of our islands, is gone.  The debris, closed stores, and flooded streets, are all that is left after the most potent ever of hurricanes, Irma, barreled through.  It seems as if we cannot stand anything more.  Many of us have lost everything.

Thousands of us across the islands are still without power, and in St. John, Bryan Barnes, chief of the St. John Rescue, told a news agency that, “Recovery has been a mess.  There was not a house that wasn’t impacted.”

As tropical storm Maria is forming into a category 4 levels, she is expected to swell into major hurricane status soon.  All I can ask of my friends, colleagues, and readers of our magazine is for you to pray for us, keep us in your thoughts, and do all you can to assist in any way possible.

All images were taken in Tortola. BVI by Janette Brin

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