Thursday, April 06, 2006

Day Two - Post Storm

The second day after the storm people began to sober up and ask questions. How bad is the damage? Pretty near catastrophic (gale-force winds, heavy rains, and storm surges of 3-5 feet resulted in damages reported at approximately $3 billion; more than 80% of the residential dwellings in St. Thomas were damaged or destroyed). How many people died? Ten deaths between St. Thomas and St. John. Who was going to help us? We would learn in the weeks to come to count on ourselves for 99% of what we needed and FEMA for their blue tarps. For those of us with jobs how soon could we go back to work? For the next two months nearly all of us were employed as “construction labor” at $10.00 an hour cash on the barrel. I became an expert “roofer.” When were basic services like electricity coming back? Many, many weeks and sporadic at that. We learned to cherish our generators.

Stories began to emerge and with the retelling, became legend. Two friends went to St. Thomas on a mostly fruitless grocery run the second day and told of a young teenaged native pulling his shirt up to reveal a pistol tucked in his waistband. “Your wallet,” the laconic youth nodded, gesturing with his hip. One friend quickly reached over and plucked the pistol from the waistband and placed the barrel firmly against the boys forehead. “Ah no, your wallet,” he said and (reportedly) smiled. The kid turned around and ran. Our friend watched him scamper, waved the pistol in the air and turned to his partner, “So it’s loaded.”

It was a time rich with anecdotal opportunity. I learned that if you take TV out of the equation, people sure to like to sit around and tell stories.

No comments: