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Post Hurricane Irma Update #1

September 16th, 2017

To the Friends of Bitter End,

We are incredibly grateful for the overwhelming generosity of our Bitter End community in support of our colleagues and friends in Virgin Gorda who have lost so much in this storm. We are all heartbroken over what has transpired. Lauren and I arrived in Puerto Rico on the morning of September 8th, two days after Irma had torn through North Sound. We flew down on board a plane loaded with relief supplies for Virgin Gorda and we knew we were on the right track when one of Bitter End’s most loyal Puerto Rican families met us on the tarmac and began helping to unload the plane. It was just the beginning of the extraordinary generosity, energy and outpouring of affection for Bitter End and Virgin Gorda that we have seen over the past several days. They and their entire community are selflessly volunteering their boats, their homes, their time and all sorts of other resources to help the North Sound community as well as the rest of Virgin Gorda. Many others such as the aviation community are demonstrating similar dedication to Virgin Gorda. 

We loaded up our Puerto Rican friends’ boats and immediately headed to Virgin Gorda, where we discharged supplies at a wreck-strewn Yacht Harbour before proceeding to North Sound and Bitter End. As you know, we had had no direct contact with our six colleagues that rode out Irma at Bitter End since communications went down around 10 AM on the day of the storm. Twenty-six hours elapsed before we learned via Necker that all at Bitter End were safe. It wasn’t until we arrived at Bitter End and received firsthand reports that we learned how incredibly harrowing and dangerous their experience had been. Now that we have spoken with more people from the community, our colleagues’ experience was no less frightening than many others’.

More important, it was clear that after surviving an unimaginable natural disaster, Virgin Gordians were facing an equally challenging and dangerous humanitarian disaster – no water, no power, no communications, limited supplies of critical pharmaceuticals, little in the way of medical personnel and facilities, food and fuel were in short supply and a critical absence of intact shelter. On Saturday morning, we were able to deliver supplies to the North Sound community and to evacuate Stacia, Joe and Scottie while Marcus, Chico and Mar chose to remain in Virgin Gorda. We also evacuated at least thirty others from North Sound and the Valley. Lauren and I will base in Puerto Rico for a while and travel back and forth to North Sound so we can help our Puerto Rican friends and North Sound neighbors deliver relief supplies and anything else that can help the people that are in need; and there are enormous needs ranging from medical, to security to a myriad of other resources. We also will be organizing Bitter End’s cleanup and planting the seeds for its recovery. It’s all truly daunting but worth every ounce of effort that goes into it.

A heartfelt thank you to our friends in the North Sound and all over the world for your support. We owe special thanks to our friends right here in Puerto Rico (also known as the Puerto Rican Navy Relief Efforts). This brigade of heroes continues to give tirelessly to the relief efforts. We ask all of you to please continue spreading awareness in your own communities. The best way to support the relief effort now is to make a donation, no matter how small, to one of the many funds set up to support those impacted by Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean. It is a long road ahead. We will need everyone’s help as we journey down the path.

With gratitude,
Richard Hokin