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Hurricane Damaged St. Croix Challenged To Get Supplies In And People Off The Island

The U.S. Coast Guard opened the seaports in St. Croix, St. Thomas and Puerto Rico over the weekend, but only for daylight operations at many sites.

Getting supplies onto the islands and people off after Hurricane Maria devastated the region continues to be a challenge.

Pinellas County resident Lisa Svarczkopf – who grew up on St. Croix - was in contact Friday with relatives living on St. Croix who weathered the category 5 hurricane.

“The whole infrastructure is collapsed right now. You have downed trees and telephone poles. So getting anywhere takes forever,” Svarczkopf said. “There's the issue of water and food.”

Many living in St. Croix donated their hurricane supplies of water and food to residents on St. John and St. Thomas when those U.S. Virgin Islands were devastated by Hurricane Irma two weeks earlier.

And it’s slow going for families and friends trying to ship supplies to the islands.

“Because just like Puerto Rico, you have to either fly it in or ship it in,” Svarczkopf said. “We’re trying to put together possibly a pallet of things that we can ship down and the first week that we can get it there would be October 3.”

Her mother still lives in St. Croix and did not evacuate prior to the hurricane.

Now, Svarczkopf and her siblings are trying to get their 88-year-old mother moved off the island, temporarily.

“When I went to speak to my mother, when they were finally able to get through to us, she got so emotional she couldn’t even talk, so I think she was pretty traumatized,” Svarczkopf said.

Her mother can’t travel alone. So, they’ve got to wait until commercial air travel resumes and a family member can go down and bring her back to the mainland. They have reservations but not until Oct. 4.

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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