I wish I had taken pictures of all the wonderful folks that have helped us in getting the house back together, but I’ll keep on adding folks as we go along. We are perpetually and enormously grateful to all the skilled craftsmen on the island, some of whom we already knew, and some who we had the pleasure of meeting after the storms. Here are a few:
Jamari Powell is one of the team of three, headed by musician, painter and gardener Paul Samms, and also including Ipaul. We kept Jamari busy throughout our stay Aug-Sept! He was so efficient and skilled, that I kept on coming up with additional stuff we needed painted in the house. An initial couple of days, expanded into several days a week for the 4 weeks we were there. Paul’s team had already fully painted the house inside and out in April. I left before they were finished and it was a delight to come home to see the house looking brand new!
STRONGHOUSE CONSTRUCTION, (Jerome Joseph principle), was responsible for all of the rebuilding. Depicted here is Hubert (second from the right) and some of his team. Hubert was the head of the team who rebuilt the roof and was overall construction supervisor. Jerome is not in this picture but was the guy in shorts supervising the team in our “moving the hot tub” video.
VIYA (formerly Innovative) has now restored landline telephone service and cable internet service. But for several months, Love City Community Network stepped in to fill a much needed internet communications gap by supplying free wifi to island residents. They began within a few days of the storms to set up small public nodes in Cruz Bay where some lucky and committed folks could gather and get on the internet. They later expanded to supply stations on several parts of the island, where you could capture an internet signal as long as you had a “Nano” receiver, a small dish like receiver, pointed toward their nearest transmitter. They continue to supply this service and having lived through the lack of communications with the storms in 2017, we made the decision to keep ours going as a back-up. Elvis (right) and Dillon (left), pictured below, came to the house to upgrade our receiver. LCCN is a non-profit and appreciate any donations. Find them here: https://lccn.vi/
Their stories are so common to the many good folks in the VI who saw a need to help after the devastation of the storms, and decided to roll up their sleeves and step right in. Both are lifelong residents of the VI. Elvis is a professional baker and trained at Culinary Institute of America. With the tourist industry destroyed after the storms, he looked to gain new and useful skills while devoting his time to restoring his community. He trained in electronics with Dillon and continues to go throughout the island helping residents to set up their communications. He is also back to baking, and we can’t wait to sample some of his wares! Dillon grew up in St. Thomas and was already in electronics, working with some of the major hotels. With hotel work gone, he transferred his skills to helping other people to restore after the hurricanes. Kudos to both!
A shout out to Troy Burke of Versitech. We’ve known Troy for many years and have always relied on him for all of our electronics needs. A few days after Maria, he came to check up on us old folks and make sure we were ok. He looked around and saw the satellite dish that had crashed down along with the deck, and all of the wiring that was flapping in the breeze, and he said he thought he could at least get us limited TV service so that we could see outside news. I wish I had taken pictures of what he did! He resurrected our satellite dish and jury-rigged it to the side of the remaining upper deck (the railings were all gone), and then secured it against the winds with recovered coaxial cable strung through the rafters of the deck where decking had blown away. Then he strung coaxial cable like clothes lines across the house and through the wall of the great room. Trust me, it was not pretty, but Bless his dear heart, we were able to get snippets of CNN and didn’t feel completely cut off! We will be forever grateful to him and all the work he has done since then to get our network, stereo and TV service back to working order. We are upgrading to Dish Networks most modern equipment and he will be supervising this work when we can schedule it.
Finally, we have to give a lot of thanks to our friend and housekeeper of many years, Ann Mary Joseph (center) and her team. We caught them in the middle of doing all of the cleanup work after the construction. Many of our guests will get a chance to meet Ann Mary during their stay and will fall in love with her as we have. Andante is really her house!