Local woman experiences Hurricane Irma in Virgin Islands

By  | 

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The promise of life in the sunny Caribbean beckoned a couple years ago and Jordan Adams answered the call, moving from Reno to St. John in the US Virgin Islands. It was all she had hoped it would be.

"It was very beautiful, very lush, very green. The beaches are amazing."

She worked in the service industry, as she had here. The first year was busy, the second not so much. Locals blamed the downturn on an election year and fear of the Zika virus.

Still, life was good; then Hurricane Irma came knocking. Leaving her own wood frame home, she found shelter in a sturdy concrete building with friends, like a party at first.

"During the worst of the hurricane, we decided just like everyone else to have a hurricane party. I think we all kept each other from losing it."

The storm over, she emerged to an unfamiliar landscape.

"It didn't look like anything we'd ever seen before on the island, like it was a completely different place. It looked like a forest fire had just singed all the trees. All of the leaves were gone. It was completely brown."

It seemed forever before help arrived, but locals did what they could.

"All of the restaurants had grabbed all of their perishable food and brought it to the bar we turned into the Red Cross center, it became the Red Cross relief center. So all of the restaurants are bringing their food there that was perishable so we could cook it and hand it out."

As they waited, food and water running low, the feeling grew that they'd been forgotten.

"Honestly we felt it up until we actually got the Navy and all of the government assistance branches were coming in. Until then we really did feel we were forgotten. It was scary."

It may be some time before her island can fully recover, even longer if the tourists it depends on stay away.

"I mean, that's the only way we survive out there."

After nine days she caught a ride on a 36-foot motorboat to Puerto Rico. Back in Reno with family, she says she's bound to go back and help rebuild.

"It was the worst thing I've ever gone through as far as seeing so much devastation. but it was also the most beautiful thing I've ever experienced in my life the way that everybody pulled together. And it's a community I'll never be able to leave. I'm scared that I might spend the rest of my life down there because it would be to hard to leave again."

There are a number of relief agencies responding to the hurricane. Two she says are local and doing good work are St. John Rescue and Love City Strong.