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How One Nonprofit’s Work Helped Minimize the Damage Done by Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Having worked in leadership roles at a number of financial services and technology firms, Kirk Chewning became a founding partner at a consulting company based in the U.S. Virgin Islands. That posting saw Chewning embarking on a new stage in his career while also becoming a deeply engaged member of a new community.

As one of the many ways he and his partners have given back to the community, Chewning helped lead an important part of the response to 2017’s Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Those Category 5 tropical storms hammered the U.S. Virgin Islands with a one-two punch that left many thousands desperately in need of help. The Cane Bay Cares nonprofit that Chewning and his partners established proved to be a major player in the recovery effort.

Delivering Desperately Needed Aid When No One Else Could

The U.S. Virgin Islands have endured many devastating storms over the years but they’ve managed to overcome the associated damage and danger every time. The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, though, posed a new level of challenge to the islands’ well-tested emergency response systems. Never before had two storms of such intensity passed through the territory so soon after one another—a fact that made the need for an equally extraordinary response immediately obvious.

Fortunately, organizations throughout the U.S Virgin Islands and abroad proved ready to overcome the challenges before them. Focusing on St. Croix, for example, Cane Bay Cares marshaled huge stocks of supplies and made sure they got where they were needed the most. That included:

  • 18,000 bottles of water. Every severe tropical storm poses the risk of contamination to water supplies, and drinking unsafe water is a leading cause of storm-related health problems. Cane Bay Cares made sure that thousands of St. Croix residents would not be subjected to such dangers.
  • 25,000 pounds of food. With the usual supply lines disrupted, St. Croix residents faced the prospect of going for days or longer without food. Once again, Cane Bay Cares helped deal with a significant threat.

A Response to Remember and Learn From

The timely availability of supplies like these helped save many St. Croix residents from perilous situations. Responses like the one carried out by Cane Bay Cares in 2017 are now being studied and used to inform plans for future recovery efforts.