The Day After
I hope you will understand why I am writing about Hurricane Irma two days in a row. St. John in the U.S. Virgins Islands, an island I know and love, was smacked hard yesterday by a hurricane considered to be the most powerful in history. The calamity known as Irma didn’t spare other islands. The tiny nearby island of Barbuda barely exists in the aftermath. St. Martin and nearby sister island, St. Thomas, is suffering badly. Photos of the damage in St. John are trickling in and not pretty. So far, there has been no report of serious injury or death. There are audible sighs of relief on Facebook as people report in on persons they have learned are safe. But there is also a thundering silence. No word from anyone who lives in Coral Bay, where the cottage we spend winters in is located. Fish Bay, on the other side of St. John where I vacationed for decades and set my two mysteries, has yet to report in. With power out, trees and lines down, and roads impassable, this is understandable, yet torturing for those waiting to hear from loved ones. The human response to a natural tragedy is both heartening and fascinating. The off-island rescuers are ready to hop on a plane, although none are flying into the Caribbean at the moment, and dig in. I’m assuming those on-island are too busy to post. The devoted are sharing prayers and inspiration. The fundraisers are creating websites. Others have launched lists where people can search for loved ones or report to them from the island. Once again, I am struck by how indomitable and indestructible the human spirit is. I am reminded of Weebles, the roly-poly toys my children played with. “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down,” went the jingle. My definition of success has always been “getting up once more than you’re knocked down.” I am moved by the love and generosity directed at St. John by those who have been captured by her beauty and spirit. I’m not naïve. I know there will be the inevitable ugliness and conflict that follows disaster when fatigue and discouragement set in. But for today, I’m celebrating the spirit of the community of St. John, both on and off-island, and joining in the prayers for those we have yet to hear from.