It also permeates mainstream media.
Hurricane Marilyn took the first part of my roof in 1995; Irma just took the
second half. But mainstream media all but ignored the Virgin Islands before
Irma wreaked historic havoc upon us.
My family and I sat their dumbfounded switching between network news
channels. It was as if we didn't exist.
In the fleeting moments when the U.S. Virgin Islands was mentioned,
reporters painted a scene taken from an episode of Gilligan's Island:
"American tourists on the U.S. territory are being cautioned to hunker
I guess the estimated 100,000 Virgin Islanders who reside between St.
Thomas, St. Croix, St. John and Water Island are "others" or
"locals," as we're called with a tinge of condescension.
Now we see those same tourists and U.S. mainland transplants having to navigate
this catastrophe, depending on us "locals" for their survival, and
how we've been more than happy to help.
I came home to take care of my elderly parents, as my father's Alzheimer's
left him disabled. In fact, I was headed back to Miami a week before the storm,
but stayed with my family as a precaution - and thank God I did. As the wind
picked up around 2 p.m., my mind drifted to Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. My
family, with my father leading the way, ran outside, crawling down stairs to a
lower basement as one of the rooms in the house blew away. This time it was my
brother and I hoisting my father to safety with my mother and sister following
Our paradise now resembles the backdrop of an apocalyptic film characterized
by crumbled houses, never-ending lines for food and a procession of army trucks
out of which a mega-phone blares, admonishing residents to get back home before
the daily 6 p.m. curfew. After curfew, construction crews can toil through the
night clearing roadways and restoring downed power lines. With trees uprooted
and stripped of their leaves, our once lush green forest mirror a brown
skeleton portrait, evoking Irma's ghost. The two post offices on the island
have been destroyed as well as the ferry boats that take passengers from St.
Thomas to St. John where many homes, businesses and the sole junior high school
have been demolished.
Since the airport isn't operable for commercial and
domestic flights, officials have warned residents to be conservative with food.
The arrival of retired NBA star Tim Duncan and former New York Mayor Michael
Bloomberg promising to bring more aid alongside the shipment they brought on a
private jet was appreciated by residents, but found more adoration from the
press core. Residents have adopted a "do-for-self" mentality during
these trying times. Neighbors are going door to door sharing the little they
have with each other.