Everything was surreal. I was physically not on island, but my heart and mind were completely focused on what was happening to the home I had just left days before. Myfamily kept trying to get my dad on a plane, but it was too late to fly out. Hurricane Irma was a Category 5 and headed directly to St. Thomas.
I am thankful to this day (and for the rest of my life) that our island friends made sure my dad stayed with them on the day of the hurricane. Two tornados within Irma devastated our house. The 200 mph winds were so strong that it completely ripped the roof off, and the beam crashed into the driveway below. One tornado actually got inside a downstairs room which plastered leaves and book pages onto the walls showing the direction of the wind. It is a miracle that we were able to salvage any of our belongings.
Six months after the hurricane, I had the opportunity to finally return to home. Since only walls were left standing, we tore down the top floor of the house. The images in this photo essay are a representation of the efforts to clean up and rebuild. The entire island had to go through this process. The people on island are some of the strongest, hardworking individuals I have ever met. The nature is bouncing back faster than I could have imagined. “Virgin Island Strong” is an understatement.