Charitable Organizations Focus on the Long-Term Future of St. Croix in the Aftermath of Hurricanes

Kirk Chewning, co-founder of the charitable organization Cane Bay Cares, initiated this non-profit organization with his partner for hurricane relief efforts. The 2017 storms that struck the U.S. Virgin Islands left a trail of destruction that even now is not fully resolved two years later. Since that time, the organization has branched out into other fundraising efforts, especially for education efforts on the island of St. Croix. This is where the parent company Cane Bay Partners is based.

Underlying Issues

Territorial Status and Isolation

Cane Bay Cares now wants to focus on the long-term future of St. Croix, helping to deal with underlying issues that cause chronic problems. The island is a U.S. territory, meaning that it does not receive the same amount of attention and funding as the states do. Its location also leaves it somewhat isolated, and expansion of business and industry is difficult.

Job Losses and Drought

Although St. Croix and the other U.S. Virgin Islands enjoy a positive economic impact from tourism, the revenue is not enough to meet all the needs of the region. That’s particularly true while trying to recover from two category 5 hurricanes. One major factor occurred in 2012, when a petroleum refinery employing 5,000 of the island’s 50,000 residents shut down. In addition, the island has been afflicted by drought conditions for years, causing serious negative effects on agriculture there.

Infrastructure

Tap water distribution systems were seriously affected by the hurricanes, and problems continue. A 2019 press release from a teachers union leader noted that the distribution of tap water is frequently interrupted at the public schools.

Welcoming Tourists

As early as six months after the 2017 hurricanes, Travel & Leisure was encouraging people to head to St. Croix for a vacation. The magazine article commented on the welcoming spirit of the residents, and the owners of businesses looking forward to the return of tourists now that about 90 percent of resorts and restaurants had reopened. Tourism won’t solve all the island’s problems, but it certainly is a big help. The visitors go home with wonderful memories of the gorgeous scenery and the friendly people they have met.