Monday, April 10, 2006

Day Three - Post Storm

The third day after the storm we were clearing brush from the roads on Water Island with machetes and someone slipped and gashed open an arm to the bone. At this point there were a few people with fast boats back in the water…so a team sped him off to the hospital on St. Thomas. It was sobering to watch him, white faced with bloody towels wrapped around his arm, climb unsteadily aboard a Boston Whaler to suffer a trip across the harbor to a hospital that had always been dubious in the best of times, and now was on generator power and overrun with hundreds of storm victims, some of them gravely injured – a scene that none of us wanted to contemplate let alone enter into in any condition of need.

To balance out the bad mojo we had a stroke of good fortune. Jerry, a captain friend of ours, had made contact on the VHF. He and a crew of three had tried to ride out the storm in the harbor aboard their charge – a 175 foot Benetti motor yacht. They’d ended up safely beached on the Charlotte Amalie side of Hassle Island but the yacht had no power and no way to run a generator to keep the refrigeration operating. They needed help offloading the perishables…a task we were more than happy to assist with. They’d just stocked for a ten day down island charter run with the owner and 12 of his closest friends. For the next week we wined and dined on variations of lobster, caviar, Kobe beef, sweet shrimp, lamb chops, sockeye salmon, top sirloin, crab cakes, endless fresh produce, free Heineken beer and key lime pie.

And so we began to settle into a routine of long, sweaty days of back breaking labor and big, festive communal dinners punctuated by the steady hum of generators. At night countless stars winked placidly down upon an utterly wrecked Carribean paradise. At dawn the glaring sun returned and warmed standing pools of rainwater that began to fester and breed dense swarms of mosquitoes. The first case of dengue fever was reported day four post storm.

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