“Still here and we’re still holding on. We are not going anywhere.”
That’s the new motto of St. John resident Adele Thomas.
Thomas has been living in this home in St. John her entire life.
The structure has been in her family for generations.
So, not even a category five hurricane was moving her out.
“It was an amazing experience because I got to, you know, push myself to the limit and it was a good feeling to know that what I did for my children and myself just to be in our home right now is such a wonderful feeling.”
Thomas hid in the basement of her home during 2017’s massive Hurricane Irma.
The rest of her family home was destroyed.
But with the help of the local community she was able to rebuild.
“Priority is always given to seniors, families with young children, anyone with a non-emergency medical issue,” Meaghen Enright, Executive Director of Love City Strong said.
A program created with the help of groups like Love City Strong, a St. John non-profit born out of the storms, are designed to get people like Thomas back into stable living conditions.
Now they have a massive supply room stocked up and ready for any future storm.
“You know, I think what we always focus on that this is a community up initiative that preparedness, starts at home, it starts with your neighbor, with your business and your community and then goes up from there,” Enright added.
Touring both Thomas’ home and Love City Strongs’ supply room were two presidential visitors.
Former President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton.
They were on island for the Clinton Foundation post disaster meeting and were extremely impressed by the preparedness of St. John.
“We got to have groups like this really all over the region,” the former President said.
The Clintons convened a meeting in St. Thomas for the Clinton Global Initiative Action Network.
The program was created to fill the gaps sometimes missed by the federal government and to support groups on the ground helping in their place.
“How long are they going to take to get back into their houses? And it is always the hardest problem. It always takes the longest. These people have figured out how to make it happen quicker. And so, I think all the rest of us should advocate whatever we think needs to be done by governments but should not wait to put together things that actually work to help people to build a better future.”
For Thomas she is grateful for the local groups that helped her and her family come home again.
“It’s like a housewarming and I like that. I don’t want to forget anybody’s name, I want everybody to know, everybody in the VI that they helped this family or any other family on the Island that needed the help. Thank you.”