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Virgin Islanders Organize Help for Hurricane Victims

Sept. 9, 2004 – As a quick succession of ferocious storms blew across the Caribbean, Virgin Islanders started relief drives for their friends and loved ones in Grenada.
Friday, two donation sites are expected to be ready on St. Thomas to receive supplies requested by a group calling itself the Grenada Community of the Virgin Islands.
This week's visit by Hurricane Ivan to the southern Caribbean is believed to have brought the worst devastation in more than 50 years on some islands. Close to 20 people died in Grenada, which felt the winds of the then-Category 4 storm on Tuesday.
In addition to the deaths, Ivan is reported to have destroyed the island's emergency management headquarters, a hospital, a home belonging to Prime Minister Keith Mitchell and wrecked Grenada's 18th century prison, freeing hundreds of inmates.
Within a couple hours of the news of the devastation arriving in the Virgin Islands, Grenadian expatriates established a relief fund and by Thursday had made their first appeal to the public for help.
"We were devastated by Hurricane Ivan. Ninety percent of our island is down. People are without homes. No water, no electricity, no phones. We would like the people of the Virgin Islands to help in any way they can," said Melinda David, a beauty shop operator now living on St. Thomas.
The group is calling on residents of St. Thomas and St. John to donate plastic sheeting, canvas, tarpaulins, tents, lumber, nails, roofing sheets, bottled water, cots, clothing, diapers, blankets, bed sheets, non-perishable foods, flashlights, batteries, lanterns, bleach, hydrogen peroxide and first aid supplies, plastic dinnerware and toiletries.
Donations of goods and monetary contributions will be accepted at the Foster Plaza Annex in Anna's Retreat and in Charlotte Amalie at the headquarters for the group, People for Progress, at the old Community Motors lot near Percy's Bus Stop on Veterans Drive. Sen. Roosevelt David has his campaign headquarters at the site.
Collection point hours are 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Mail-in donations should be addressed to P.O. Box 304220, St. Thomas, VI 00830.
There was no word about relief efforts for Grenada on St. Croix but on Thursday, St. Croix resident Sen. President David Jones, issued a statement expressing his "sympathy and prayers."
"St. Croix, being a true melting pot of the Caribbean, is home to many Caribbean nationals who now find themselves concerned for the welfare of family and friends in Barbados, Tobago and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and especially the hard hit island of Grenada," Jones said.
A relief effort originating on St. Croix is being directed towards Florida, where three hurricanes — two of them Category 4 — Charlie and Frances — rampaged through the state over the past four weeks.
The Hovensa refinery is sending fuel there. When Hurricane Frances hit the coast, ports had to be closed and fuel stopped flowing. Now there is a short-term shortage. Hovensa was able to locate an empty 14-million gallon Citgo tanker. Citgo agreed to get a load at Hovensa for quick shipment to Florida.
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