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Cruz Bay
Monday, January 30, 2023



Oct. 12, 2001 – The American Red Cross needs volunteers in St. John, said St. Thomas/St. John Director Yvonne Zinicola at a meeting Friday of the Rotary Club of St. John. And it needs to find a new home.
Zinicola said the Health Department told her it needs the space now occupied by the Red Cross at the Morris deCastro building across from the Cruz Bay waterfront.
"Potentially, we're going to be homeless," she said.
She added that the agency also has supplies stashed here and there all over St. John, which need to be consolidated.
Zinicola said that the St. Thomas/St. John Red Cross chapter has been in a state of recovery since Hurricane Marilyn devastated the territory in 1995.
One casualty has been collaborative efforts between the main office in St. Thomas and the St. John volunteers.
"We have to bridge the distance between the two islands. We're not two Red Crosses," she said.
Asked if St. John was ready should a disaster hit, Zinicola hedged. She said that while she was sure volunteers would respond, she was unsure if they were trained.
If the island can't come up with enough trained volunteers during a disaster, the Red Cross sends volunteers from the mainland.
"Then there are cultural differences," she said.
After hearing a post-Hurricane Marilyn tale about imported Red Cross volunteers vocally complaining in the U.S. Post Office line about a lack of air conditioning at their posh hotel, she said the heat was a factor for stateside volunteers used to a cooler climate.
She said St. John has about 20 volunteers.
Her entire chapter has been struggling. She said that the St. Thomas office went down with Hurricane Marilyn when it was inundated with three feet of water. Since then, they have moved several times.
When the St. Thomas office took a hit, vital records for both islands were lost.
While the Red Cross in the territory has, so far this year, been spared having to respond to a hurricane, the chapter remains on call to help with aid for Operation Enduring Freedom, America's campaign against terrorism. She said that the Red Cross serves as the link between families here and military personnel on the front lines when emergencies develop. The agency transmits messages and will facilitate bringing the armed forces member home if it is possible.
Zinicola said the chapter sent 10 volunteers and one staff member to assist in various stateside locations after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
To volunteer in either St. John or St. Thomas, call 774-0375.

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