Paradise Lost – Spirit of America Lives on St John in USVI

By Faye Higbee

St John was once a 20 square mile piece of lush green paradise in the US Virgin Islands. But Hurricane Irma struck them at Category 5 with 185 mile per hour winds…which took out the electricity, stripped trees and left total devastation. There is currently no electricity, and very few buildings are left standing. Two restaurants are working together to feed the residents.

This is not a scene from Resident Evil…this was once a tropical paradise

Kristen Gaskins told us the restaurants Longboard and Cruz Bay Landing are working in tandem to feed the residents of St John. It was confirmed by Todd Beaty, the owner of Cruz Bay Landing.

When the hurricane passed, power lines and tree branches actually blocked Kristen’s husband Clint Gaskins, owner of the Longboard, and crews from being able to get to their building.  But visually they saw that it survived, even though power lines were down all over the restaurant.

The Longboard restaurant building survived, as did the Cruz Bay Landing building. As newer restaurants on the island, they both have generators- something that other facilities did not have.

In spite of the “apocalyptic” scenes around them, the Longboard and Cruz Bay Landing knew that residents needed food. There are over 4000 Americans on the island.

The Longboard posted this on September 9:

Yesterday evening the Longboard crew opened their doors and their kitchen, pumping out nearly 500 hot meals for the community! The locals came out in droves, and it was a happy sight to see everyone on the island ok, and a privilege to be able to serve them a meal. We’d like to keep this going, as we’re one of the only businesses still standing, with a generator, walk-in cooler, functional kitchen, and staff ready to work!

The Longboard Crew prepares to serve food (screenshot)

Undaunted, they saw their neighbors in need and stepped up to the plate. The restaurants opened their doors to the residents of the island and began preparing meals. Both restaurant owners, Clint and Todd are on the island now helping their crews feed the people.

The Longboard is alternating days with Cruz Bay Landing to try and save their food and propane supply until it can be replenished. Both restaurants have contracts with the Red Cross for meals beginning Monday. They must make 500 sack lunches and 500 hot meals every day…1,000 meals for each restaurant per day.

They are hoping no other storms interfere with the resupply deliveries. The possibility of  storms Marie and Lee bringing more devastation to St John is real.

 “Love City”

Cruz Bay has a nickname of “Love City” – and their residents have proven it after the hurricane.

Since St Thomas island was the source of the St John power supply, and they were devastated as well, restoration of power is not likely to happen for months. But these people are Americans with the desire to help each other.

“People were out with their chainsaws helping to clear the streets. It’s been a huge local effort by everybody.” Kristen Gaskins

The National Guard/Military arrived on Sunday. But the two restaurants who are helping to feed the residents and first responders on St John…we think they’re heroes for helping the people of their island.

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Featured photo- the street near the Longboard after Irma (Screenshot)