U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS -- Hurricanes Irma and Maria pummeled through the Caribbean and left behind devastation, wide spread power outages, and a shortage of basic supplies such as food, water and gasoline.
Lindy Quaglia is from Manchester, Connecticut originally.
She moved to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands about five years ago. She was attracted to the crystal blue waters, lush palm trees, and work opportunities in the tourism industry. She told FOX61, however, everything there has changed since Irma and Maria.
“The island doesn’t even look the same it looks like winter time in Connecticut, there’s no foliage there’s no trees,” Quaglia said.
Since the storms blasted the island, St. Thomas is facing in overwhelming task to rebuild.
“We have no hospital on any of the islands, all of them got shutdown. We have no airports,” Quaglia explained about the damage left behind. She went on to say, “We’re still without power so there’s no traffic lights the traffic is really bad. Our governor will do press conferences, but if you don’t have a radio or you don’t have internet access you can’t really pull up what he’s saying you just hear everything word of mouth.”
There are more than 50,000 residents on St. Thomas, but many evacuated between Hurricane Irma and Maria. They were without an airport, so many waited hours on docks to catch a ride on any boat they could to a neighboring island with a functioning airport. Quaglia, however, chose to ride Maria out and stay to clean up.
“If we stick around and help and try to rebuild, there’s not many people left that are doing that,” she said, desperate to stay positive that the island will once again return to a popular cruise ship port and tourist destination.
The residents, like Quaglia, who are still there sticking it out are currently under a strict curfew. That curfew first went into place following Irma as a means of safety while clean efforts began. The curfew was tightened as Hurricane Maria approached the island.
“The morning of, we were only allowed to go out for two hours to try and get prepared for the storm and supplies were already low, ice, water etc.,” Quaglia said.
After Maria hit, the governor declared a 24-hour curfew for the next several days, but that has since been lifted. As of Friday, residents are back on a curfew limited them to be out only during the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Qugalia said the limited hours has made replenishing supplies difficult. She said grocery stores and gas stations get very long lines just to get in.
“We’re all just trying to take it day-by-day and figure out what we need to do that day to get through,” she explained.
A friend of hers, Landen Johnson turned is charter boat, typically used for tourists, into an evacuation service between the two storms. He is now using his boat to collect supplies from other islands and bring them back to St. Thomas. His efforts are on a voluntary basis and folks have since set him up a GoFundMe account to help keep his efforts going.
The National Guard is reportedly on the island helping to distribute supplies. President Donald Trump has declared the U.S. Virgin Islands a major disaster area, ordering federal aid to help with the recovery efforts.
Quaglia’s family and friends state side have gathered supplies and a generator to send to her. They have not been able to ship the items to her yet, because with no working post office on the island there has been some concerns with looting on the docks where shipments come in.