What we do
In December 2019, the novel coronavirus emerged as a new threat to global health and security. Before the first case had been reported in the USVI, our team began planning ahead for what we knew would be an unprecedented challenge.
In early March, we purchased bulk stock PPE to give to medical professionals, first responders, and essential workers in anticipation of a global shortage. Beginning on March 8th we we able to deliver gloves, surgical masks, tyvek suits, hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap, and cleaning supplies to the Myrah Keating Smith clinic, Cruz Bay Family Practice, and Island Health and Wellness as well as to employees of grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations across the island for 3 weeks, well before push packages of PPE were sent to the territory by the federal government.
On March 10th, we began to distribute informational flyers in English and in Spanish across the island, posting them in public spaces and handing them out door to door to seniors and individuals with chronic health conditions whom we had assisted in the past. Over 500 flyers were distributed in 72 hours. The flyers were vetted by the Virgin Islands Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and addressed increased hygiene, social distancing measures, COVID-19’s symptoms, and how symptomatic individuals could get help. Our team was able to utilize information from a year’s worth of door to door surveying to identify certain residents who are more at risk for the ill-effects of COVID-19 than others, as defined by CDC guidelines. On March 14th, the first case of COVID-19 was reported by health officials in the US Virgin Islands.
In April, we began partnering with World Central Kitchen and Gifft Hill School to deliver hot and cold meals to seniors, families with children, and individuals with a disability or chronic health condition. On average, over 500 meals are delivered directly to homes every week. Our ability to safely and efficiently provide food to the community has been made possible by the valuable relationships we have formed with the small business community. We coordinated with St. John Brewers to increase preparation and storage capacity, and Rocknrolla Charters to add transportation for our team and a Spanish translator to ensure more individual needs are met. We plan to continue this program for as long as the community needs it.
Our administrative staff is working with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and other subject matter experts to offer support to small businesses as they sign up for and navigate economic relief programs. We are also working to adapt our disaster response protocols to include pandemic considerations for what may be another record year for hurricane activity in the Atlantic.
For more information on COVID-19 in the US Virgin Islands, including informational graphics and videos, visit our What To Know page.
Resilient Housing Initiative (RHI)
The Resilient Housing Initiative (RHI) focuses on construction projects designed to return St. John’s vulnerable residents to stable living situations. It works to ensure that components of residents’ homes are rebuilt to be more disaster-resistant than their pre-storm conditions.
Full-time residents of St. John who are members of one or more of the following categories are eligible, upon case-by-case evaluation from the STJ Community Foundation’s Disaster Case Managers.
For many St. John residents, RHI is the only path to full recovery. It is tremendously difficult for residents to focus their attention on schooling, medical care, or economic growth while they are still displaced or living under a blue tarp roof.
Due to the tremendous logistical complexities involved with a project of this magnitude, LCS partners with community and international entities in the nonprofit and private sectors to combine resources, utilize complementary skill sets, and streamline project management and rebuilds for those most in need. RHI partners include:
Love City Strong is committed to providing the following resources for RHI:
- All project management, oversight, site inspections, and shipping logistical support
- Paying for all construction labor for all crews and licensed contractors
- Mold sanitation on all rebuilt homes courtesy of our Mold Sanitation Team
- Fixed assets for the duration of projects, including a materials yard and four vehicles to be used solely for the purpose of completing the project (fuel and maintenance included)
- Acceptance of full client-related liability associated with each build
In 2018, LCS began the Water Quality Project, aimed at testing and raising awareness of cistern water quality for some of the island’s most vulnerable residents, including seniors, low-income families, single parent families, pregnant women, and residents with disabilities or non-emergency medical needs. From February to October 2018, our water scientists visited and tested the cistern water of over 200 homes, at no cost to the residents. Alarmingly, the vast majority of our tests showed a high presence of harmful E.coli bacteria, which places these vulnerable residents at severe health risk. Our testing data drove us to seek funding for long-term solutions.
In 2019, Love City Strong was granted funding from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy to provide and install new UV and carbon filtration systems on 50 residential cisterns. These cisterns belong to individuals whose test results in the first project phase continuously showed a high-risk of contamination. This project will create long-term health benefits for the high-risk individuals who are affected. It will also have a larger positive economic impact, as it will reduce dependence on bottled water and the added strain it places on St. John’s fragile waste management system over time.
After sharing our testing results and methodology with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it was determined that Love City Strong’s project data will be used to adjust federal policy and procedures currently in place for natural disaster response in areas such as the Caribbean basin. By sharing this information with our federal partners, LCS hopes to have residential cisterns recognized by the federal government as “an essential part of infrastructure,” eligible for federal mitigation funding after a natural disaster, and continuous government subsidy programs thereafter for low- and fixed-income individuals.
Following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the majority of homes on St. John still have some degree of mold contamination, ranging from minor to extensive.
With help from the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI), LCS hired, trained, and professionally licensed a cleaning crew of St. John residents who worked hard sanitizing homes belonging to affected full-time residents. This group included low-income families, single-parent families, pregnant women, and residents with a disability or non-emergency medical need. In 2018, more than 100 homes were successfully sanitized. The project ended in March 2018, and successfully served 158 different homes on St. John, giving residents healthier home environments free of harmful mold and mold spores.
Building on what we learned in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma, LCS has organized the systems that worked best for St. John into a structured and manageable preparedness and resilience plan.
We have established secure supply storage facilities in 3 areas across the island.
We have established an annual stand-by road clearing team, ready to deploy in the event of a disaster.
We have established an annual stand-by expansion of our Go Team, ready to deploy for door-to-door wellness checks and supply distribution in the event of a disaster.
To be effective in a variety of response situations, our stand-by teams have received extensive training from St. John Rescue, the USVI Department of Health, the Virgin Islands Public Safety-Support Foundation, FEMA, and VITEMA.
Emergency Response + Support
A pervasive issue that has long affected St. John is the delayed response to emergencies by emergency workers, such as our Fire Department and EMS. This is due to a variety of factors including the island’s inherent topographical challenges; poor cell phone and data service that make it difficult for residents and dispatch centers to connect with one another; outdated mapping of public roads, parcels and land estates; a lack of mapping for the majority of private roads and structures; the fact that response agencies are largely understaffed or underfunded; and the fact that a large portion of their labor force is comprised of non-residents who may be unfamiliar with the island’s streets, landmarks, and terrain.
In 2019, we seeks to bridge these gaps and connect emergency workers with residents through community outreach and data gathering. Right now, our Go Team is traveling across the island and going door-to-door offering several services to residents that may make it easier for first responders to find them. These include painting addresses in reflective or black paint; installing easy to use, waterproof, emergency red flashing lights to be installed outside a home; and providing complimentary File of Life cards. The team is also collecting important data that will be used by first responders to locate at-risk residents in the event of a natural disaster.
When it comes to ensuring the safety and wellness of the St. John community, no donation is too small. Our teams are on the ground, working hard every day to make an impact. We can continue to do so with your support.Donate now