As y’all may have noticed by the very lengthy threads about fandom racism I keep making on my twitter, I’m back in Florida.
I had a lovely time visiting my father and once hurricane season is over, I’m going to go back and visit him (or get him to come up here once airports are open and whatnot). I loved being in my childhood bedroom and getting to bask in a sense of community that I still don’t really have in Florida. Those of you who grew up in/have lived in small towns know how it is: everyone knows your business and your face.
It can be stifling if you’re there all the time, but when you come home to visit? It’s just delightful to realize how many people know you, love you, and miss you. I’m a pretty likeable person and I’m So Good at making friends, but there’s something about coming home and having your people literally embrace you with giddy joy when they see you walking down the street that’s just… something else.
As much fun as I had with my darling dad and being reminded that I’m just beloved by so many people, there was a serious purpose to me going back home too: I wanted to see what the island looked like eight months after Irma and Maria.
One thing I want to highlight about the U.S. Virgin Islands is that it’s still recovering from the Irma-Maria aftermath. Several buildings literally aren’t there anymore. The police station and board of education across from my church are destroyed. The church school I went to for kindergarten and first grade is partially demolished (the roof was torn off during Irma).
All across the islands you see blue FEMA tarp in place of roofing. They’re working on rebuilding downtown where the tourists are, but even down there I saw absolutely destroyed landmarks and buildings.
It’s worrying because I don’t know how well the island will fare after this hurricane season. The population of the Virgin Islands tends to the very old or the very young with a LOT of elderly people taking care of their young grandchildren (or young parents with young children). Many people live in old houses or mediocre public housing. A lot of people live in houses that jut out from mountains over super high drops.
I’m not sure if any of the organizations that cropped up after Irma-Maria are still around, but I’m going to do some more research and keep and eye out so that I can make sure folks know they can donate to the islands in order to help people on my island as we get ready to head into another totally terrible hurricane season.