The Caribbean Needs You…Now

Throughout the week seeing pictures of what Hurricane Irma has done to many of the Leeward Islands and northern Caribbean has left me feeling both heartbroken and helpless.

The sadness of seeing pictures of once beautiful hotels, restaurants and homes now destroyed has only been compounded by the fact that I have done stories on many of these places and personally know many of the hardworking families/ businesses who have literally lost everything.

Words cannot even express the pain felt not knowing if family, friends and colleagues were alright for days or seeing places you consider a second home gone. There are still so many that are unaccounted for. Added to that pain is the lack of mainstream news coverage on what is happening to people on the islands affected.

Whether you have roots in the Caribbean, have vacationed there, gotten married there or have plans to visit, please do what you can to help. And, yes that means that if you have plans to visit a country in the region that was not affected PLEASE DO NOT cancel. Contrary to many inaccurate headlines, the Caribbean has not been decimated.

Yes, it is a fact that parts of the Leeward Islands and the northern Caribbean have really been hard hit. They will need our ongoing support. However, most of the Caribbean region including Jamaica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines remain untouched.

There are other places like St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Nassau-Paradise Island that were in the storm’s path, but only have minimal damage and the local economies of these islands need you. Often referred to as “the most tourism dependent region in the world”, the Caribbean region needs your support now more than ever.

So How You Can Help?

The Caribbean Tourism Organization has a Relief Fund, which regularly collects donations if any of its member countries are affected by hurricanes, and to assist Caribbean countries affected by natural disasters. It’s through this fund that the CTO channels monetary assistance to impacted member states and the monies collected will be disbursed directly to these ministries of tourism

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association has established the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund, focused on getting the vital tourism industry back on its feet in the islands directly impacted by the storm.

British Virgin Islands

BVI Relief site has links to local organizations where you can donate money or donate much needed supplies to all of the British Virgin Islands. You can also use the BVI Safety Check in order to track down missing relatives and friends. This important tool has aided me in tracking down friends and the loved ones of friends.

US Virgin Islands

21 US Virgin Island Relief Fund was created by St. Croix native and basketball legend Tim Duncan, who has already donated $250,000 and has pledged to match donations up to $1 million.

Seaborne Cares — Relief Efforts and Donations says they are working on activating our Seaborne Cares program to establish relief flights, once authorities grant permission and they are secure to land. Once they have rescued employees, they will be delivering supplies to US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Antigua, and St. Maarten. They will be collecting supplies of water, canned food, medicines and first aid kits. They will work with appropriate authorities to distribute in the stations affected as our flight loads permit.

Antigua & Barbuda

The Consulate of Antigua & Barbuda in New York has set up a Barbuda relief fund where there are options to send monetary donations or drop off goods across several states . There is also information on how to get goods to specific families from Barbuda who were evacauted to Antigua.

The Barbuda Post-Irma Relief Facebook Group is providing ongoing information about where and how to donate everything from canned goods to toiletries, clothes and bedding. For more: +1–268–788–3640.

Please Visit

I think it’s imperative to reiterate that as the most tourism dependent region, the last thing the Caribbean region needs is to lose you as a visitor. If you have plans to visit a country in the region that was not affected PLEASE DO NOT cancel your trip.

When it is safe to go and visit the islands that were affected by the storm, PLEASE DO! They will certainly need people to start visiting again to stimulate their local economies.

I will be doing everything that I can to help with relief efforts and will contribute to on going stories for as long as it takes. I will uppdate this post with relief effort information as get it and can confirm authenticity. As a proud Caribbean American, if there is one thing I know about the Caribbean spirit, it is that although can be battered, it can NEVER be broken.

To the region that I love so dearly and have had the honor of covering for so many years as a Caribbean correspondent, we have not forgotten about you. We will do whatever it takes to assist and be there for you in this time of need.

Recovery will happen, but it will require your help. Please donate money, supplies or your time.