Entourage Yearbooks

For Schools in the US Virgin Islands – Hope After Irma and Maria

PRINCETON, N.J. – Oct. 20, 2017 – PRLog — St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands was devastated by Hurricane Irma and again by Hurricane Maria after these historical Category 5 storms tore through the islands only two weeks apart.  Thousands of people had to be rescued and several were left without power or possibly even a home to come back to after the intense gale force winds and water inundated the island.  Across the community, schools, businesses, homes and modes of transportation, etc. faced unimaginable destruction.  Addelita Cancryn Middle School in St. Thomas is just one school that was severely affected by these storms.  The teachers in the community exhibit immense strength and spirit in the face of adversity while continuing to overcome challenges on a daily basis.  Although there is still a long road to recovery and healing, stories about countless acts of heroism and selflessness from aid workers, the national guard, teachers and volunteers bring us hope.

Recently, Entourage spoke with the Yearbook Advisor of Addelita Cancryn, Mrs. Lisa Forde, who said their lives have changed drastically since the hurricanes.  Their new normal is no electricity, no running water, split sessions for some schools (with some still not open) and constantly praying for no more rain for the homes that are still without roofs.  Even with the adequate warning, they did not expect the level of destruction that hit the island.  Lisa’s 89 year old mother lost her home and Lisa’s home took on a lot of water which affected windows, doors, tiles, all furniture and personal possessions.  They also sustained roof damage as the storm left a hole in their roof.  During the hurricanes, Lisa and her family hunkered down in the family room.  She said that, “Maria was much scarier as her winds were louder, more intense…like sitting next to a railroad track.”

The schools in the community continue to face challenges since the storms. Addelita Cancryn Middle School has been condemned by the Government due to the immense damage it sustained. They lost roofs, walls blew out and all contents were destroyed. Educators were uncertain about the future of their students in attending classes. Despite the incredible circumstances they faced, teachers in St. Thomas stepped up and have played a key role in organizing the community. They are determined to keep the students on track with their studies and to give them some sense of normalcy in their daily routine. Students are now on double session at a high school with middle school students attending in the morning, and high schoolers attending in the afternoon.

Despite the devastation, after the hurricanes hit, help was on the ground quickly.  The Army Corps of Engineers, National Guard, Red Cross and even volunteer groups such as All Hands Volunteers were ready and willing to assist.  Lisa has witnessed her town become more unified as everyone is pitching in, cleaning debris, and trying to get back to as normal as possible without power and water.  About her students, Lisa says, “Our students are resilient and despite getting only 4 hours of instruction a day, they are working hard to meet the academic demands of their teachers.”  Advice Lisa can offer to others in a similar situation is to “help each other so that you can rebuild that much quicker.  Extend yourself to others and give where you can!”  It is this spirit of kindness, selflessness and unity that will help this community to rebuild and overcome.

Entourage continues to support and stand by their schools that were affected by these unimaginable events and thanks Lisa for sharing her story.

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