St. Thomas always in my heart

It’s been weeks since Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastates the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, but it is still a part of my thoughts daily. I feel helpless, especially for my family who is disconnected. I have a great uncle and other family members that live in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

St. Thomas isn’t underwater like Puerto Rico, to my knowledge, but there are still a lot of problems with water, food, housing and electricity. I say to my knowledge because there have been very few images coming from the U.S. Virgin Islands. We have seen more from Puerto Rico, which is about 40 miles west of St. Thomas. It is said that you can see the opposing island on a clear day.

Heck, the distance between the two is less than the distance I drive to get to the airport when I need to fly from Charlotte.

St-Thomas-is-home-to-my-family. It's-devastation-is-heart-breakingSt. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, is a part of my life because my mother was born there. Two years ago we were able to visit where she grew up. We walked around her neighborhood, visited where she went to school and even ventured up to the house she grew up in until her mother died and then sent to the “mainland.”

Helping family

Family-photo-with-our-uncle-in-St.-ThomasDespite that, our connection to the island remained through family members. Right now we are working to help my great uncle, who is my maternal grandfather’s only living brother stocked with what he needs. He and a lot of people are without power, have very little food and little to no water. For him specifically, the roof to his home was damaged during the hurricane. He has said part of it is off. He doesn’t have a smartphone so we can’t see to know how much damage has happened. Since he has no power, he has been using his car to charge his cell phone.

My first care package will go out this weekend. It will have canned food, bug spray or Avon’s Skin So Soft, if I can find a local seller, and batteries. One cousin mailed lanterns, flashlights and batteries. Another mailed toiletries. We are also looking for battery operated fans. I didn’t even know they existed.

St. Thomas: Around the island

I grew up hearing about St. Thomas. It was sort of an enchanted place and somewhere I desperately wanted to visit and get to know. It’s still a place I want to become more connected to in time.

Steps-on-steps-throughout-the-island-in-St.-ThomasThe steps. There are steps all around the island. For as long as I can remember my mother and aunts always talked about the millions, well maybe not millions, of steps they walked down to come into town and school and then back up up to go back home.

A-view-towards-the-ocean-in-St.-ThomasThere was so much to see in downtown from the historic churches and buildings to the stores that now occupy an area that is accessible to tourists coming off cruise ships. I walked down a number of the corridors that wound into one another.

The-beaches-in-St.-Thomas-and-the-Virgin-Islands-are-breathtakingAnd of course the beautiful beaches. I could have spent an eternity on the sand. I am a summer child and let me live on the beach. This is a goal in the coming years after my not so little man graduates from high school.

I hope to one day to spend more time in St. Thomas. I didn’t want to leave two years ago and think often about how can I get back to stay longer than five days. It’s one of my biggest hopes.

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