In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Jenn Manes has become a sort of public advocate for relief assistance in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She grew up in Milford, but has lived on the island of St. John for several years and now considers it home.
She was on the island as it was battered by Hurricane Irma earlier this month and said the storm left behind historic amounts of destruction.
“St. John is known as a happy little island. So many tourists come there, especially from Connecticut and this part of the country. To see it turned into a war zone is just heartbreaking,” she said.
Hurricane Irma's destruction forced Manes to evacuate the island.
She and her boyfriend left St. John with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard and then a cruise ship that brought them to Miami before they took a flight to Bradley International Airport. Now at her parents' home in Madison, Manes is worried about how her island home will fare because of Hurricane Maria.
“Sitting 2,000 miles away just watching it get battered again it breaks my heart,” she said.
Hurricane Irma leveled parts of the island, destroying houses and tossing boats onto land.
“When I drove around I didn’t even know where I was. That’s how devastated this island is. We’re alive, we’re safe. But we’re not OK. We might physically be okay, but our life was taken away from us" says Manes who is waiting for Maria to pass so she can figure out how soon she can return to St. John.
Manes said while she’s here in Connecticut she plans to use her website, www.NewsofStJohn.com, to keep people informed about what’s happening on her beloved island.
However long it takes St. John to rebuild, Manes remains committed to being on the island to help bring back the place locals know as “The Love City.”
“The second we can get back and the second we can help, we will be there,” she said.