Yesterday I wrote a piece about the current situation going on in St. Lucia post-Hurricane Tomas, specifically in the town of Soufriere. I told you a little about why part of my heart will always be drawn to this beautiful island and also about the fear I had concerning my friends who live in Soufriere.
I received wonderful news last night, and many thanks go to Kory Bielic for emailing me with word that Monica and Martin are safe! There were several couples staying at Crystals during the hurricane along with Monica and Martin. Everyone physically escaped unscathed, but the tragedy in Soufriere has wounded their hearts, I'm sure. I still have not had a chance to speak with Monica and Martin but just knowing they are ok is very comforting.
There is still much work to be done before Lucians can go back to life as normal, and in some cases even be able to go back to their homes or what's left of their homes. The Fond St. Jacques area of Soufriere was hardest hit by landslides, mudslides, and water. Thanks to Terry Finisterre (Twitter @terryfinisterre) for providing a firsthand account of what is going on in Fond St. Jacques.
The mud in some places is 3+ meters deep -- this is about one story. For all you who own a two-story home, take a moment to consider that overnight your lovely house has suddenly become one story because a mud flow has taken over the first floor. This is very soft, porous mud as well. It sucks at your feet and legs as you walk and you fear even stepping onto it because you may sink and be unable to get out. Terry said a small pebble was thrown in the mud and it sunk out of sight like it was thrown into quicksand.
On top of the horrors of what happened during the hurricane, no electricity, and no water, some of the residents of Soufriere are also living with the reality that their houses are very different than what they were just a few days ago. Imagine losing everything in the first floor of your home. I can't. I have precious and irreplaceable photographs, some of you may have your marriage certificate or diploma framed and hanging. Can you imagine losing it all?
In Fond St. Jacques, an entire metal bridge was moved from the rapid flow of water. It no longer rests over a stream but on a hill of mud. A Toyota minibus was moved 400m downstream. There are local reports that the sulfur springs and waterfalls have been damaged. This is of particular concern to the residents because Soufriere contains some of the most visited tourist attractions in St. Lucia. Without these destinations, the entire economy suffers.
Here is what I find even sadder than what has happened and is still going on in St. Lucia: it seems as if mass media and the world at large aren't paying it attention. I have been in contact with many Lucians both living in their home country and living abroad and the general feeling is that the world just doesn't care. Is it because there are no celebrities endorsing a St. Lucia Relief Drive? Is that what it takes for a humanitarian issue to be noticed? If so, then hey you, celebrity, stand up for the Lucians! Use your influence to make a difference! There are some of us doing what we can to show the world what's happening, but we can only do so much with our time and money and there needs to be more done. Think back a few months ago to The Bachelor. The Bachelor brought much attention to the jewel of St. Lucia and now in one of the nation's most difficult times in memory, that attention has disappeared. It is heartbreaking.
Currently, the French and British military are reportedly distributing rations and as you can see in the photographs below, St. Lucia Red Cross has been here and will continue to work with the residents of Soufriere and provide hygiene kits, blankets, and other necessities. Rebuilding has started, debris is being cleared and slowly the courageous Lucians will make it livable again.
You can get involved too! I challenge you to make a small contribution to the St Lucia Red Cross. Take a minute and calculate how much you spend eating out or on coffee and beer each week. Even if you give half of that amount, you are still doing an amazing thing to help. Current estimates of damages exceed $1M USD. We are coming up on Thanksgiving and Christmas here in the States -- this is a fantastic time of year to join together and show a group of people you care. I am a firm believer that when even a small amount of anything is given with a spirit of love then it will be multiplied and it will also come back to you. Call it karma or the golden rule, what can you do to help?
Donations of non-perishable food items can be made at the following locations:
Super J Gablewoods Mall, Rodney Bay, JQ, Mega J and GL Foods Baywalk.
Thank you for joining me in caring for the people of St. Lucia on this tragic and unexpected journey. Let's keep showing them we are watching and we do care!
[Breaking!] Power has been restored to Soufriere and most of the Fond St. Jacques area! Way to go, LUCELEC!
Follow Amber DeGrace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/amberdegrace