We just celebrated our two month “Irma-versary” and still no power, no internet and no AT&T coverage at Apito.
Even though things have markedly improved and progress continues to be made on the project, and the island in general, we are still operating in a largely, analog world. On our daily trips into Cruz Bay for ice, gas and a visit to the market for what can be cobbled together for dinner, I typically have two to three meetings on the way in, and on the way out of town, as I pass by familiar trucks, lay on the horn a bit longer than the abbreviated short beeps that simply signify “hello” and look for brake lights in my side view mirror.
There are a ton of linemen from Joplin, MO on the ground, working tirelessly alongside our WAPA guys who have not had a break in the action for the past two months. While these crews are making great progress resetting poles and stringing the wires, we are still faced with the same problem we’ve always faced here, the WAPA power generation facility on St. Thomas which is still old, decrepit and not super reliable.
We have no expectations that we will receive “current” anytime soon at our home on Mamey Peak or at Picture Point. Since it’s still a bit too messy to start getting concrete on the job site for another week or two, we’re focused 100% on finishing up the top four units and outfitting them for complete off-grid capability. It’s been rainy over the last several days, and the crew has been focused on finishing off the interiors, but they did manage to get our final TotalWall coat on the Tower Villa and upper 1BR units.
We’ve run through our initial quantity of TotalWall, and had another 65 5-gallon buckets waiting for us at the Sherwin Williams on St. Thomas, but unfortunately, that particular location no longer has a roof. I’m pretty sure our buckets are safe, just inside the backdoor, buried under what used to be their roof, but getting to it may be a prolonged process. This, too, will be solved in due time.
The island and attitude of everyone continues to be positive and upbeat. We’re used to things taking time in the most optimal of circumstances, and while all are frustrated from time to time with the pace of recovery, we’ve certainly been conditioned to be patient, so no worries!
Being a “survivor” of these vicious storms, which veteran FEMA folks have called the worse they have ever seen, we’ve heard many harrowing tales of survival from our fellow islanders. While our own hurricane(s) stories are tame by comparison, there is one story of survival and serendipity which must be shared.
After our afternoon provisioning run into town a few weeks ago, we returned home to find a visitor hanging out under our pool area, meowing loudly. Lori had already rescued a kitten found under Pickles restaurant in Coral Bay and managed to find “Cat 6” a forever home with our niece Kayleigh in Charleston, when we took a week off a month ago. The island must have taken notice of her kindness and cat placement expertise, so St. John decided it was time for her to work her magic yet again.
After two weeks of “fostering” this new cat, which could easily have been Cat 6’s sister or cousin given its black fur and almond shaped green eyes, we had accepted our fate that we would now become partial cat people and hopefully have a competent mouser around to keep the tree rats away from our property. However, the island was determined to have this particular refugee returned to her rightful owner.
This past Saturday, Lori and I were enjoying a nice lunch at Wok on The Beach in Coral Bay and chatting with our waitress, Lisa, and sharing hurricane tales of survival. She and her boyfriend’s house weathered the storm remarkably well, but during the storm they had decided to not take any chances and holed up in the middle of Carolina Valley at a home near Josephine’s farm. Lori asked if she needed a cat, and she told us maybe, as one of her two cats had run away during Irma and had been missing for the 8 weeks since. As the conversation progressed, and the only unique marking the cat possessed was discussed, we all became convinced this might be her cat! One thing you need to know about Coral Bay cats is that most of them are black, with green almond eyes and possess Siamese-esque personalities.
So, Lisa and her boyfriend came by the next morning and sure enough, were 95% convinced this was their missing DeeDee. They bundled her up and took her home for the real test – meeting their other cat and DeeDee’s partner in crime. Sure enough, they were happily reunited and all again was right in the feline kingdom. Where else could this have happened? Certainly not many places, but on St. John, anything is possible.
As power, internet and cellular conditions improve, I pledge to become more reliable on my “Sunday updates”, but for now, you, like the rest of us need to embrace the patience we practice during more normal times which is now stretched to new dimensions post dual CAT5 calamities. I am certain of one thing however, St. John will recover and emerge better than ever before. It was a special place before the 1-2 punch from Mother Nature just 8 short weeks ago, and the aftermath has only reaffirmed our belief that this is truly a unique and special place in this world. St. John Strong!
The car barge port is almost cleared… waiting on the Coast Guard to clear it.
I know you’ve been missing baby Cameron’s photos as much as we miss having here on island. She’s currently living the mainland life for a bit longer, and we cannot wait until she returns and brings her infectious smile and budding personality back to her home.
Have a great week everyone!