Auburn native withstands Irma on St. John
Auburn, N.Y. —
Almost one week after Hurricane Irma devastated the Virgin Islands, Jim Hanley relives his memories through photographs.
"That's myself, my wife and Tim at the Tap Room. The picture next to that is Trunk Bay," says Hanley. "You can see the color of the water is like nothing you see stateside."
His son Tim moved to St. John 10 years ago and now works with his cousin at St. John's Brewers Tap Room. He stayed on the island when Irma hit. The waiting was the hardest part for the Hanley family.
"We knew it was hitting between 12 and 5 PM. I was sitting here in the office knowing what they were going through and not really realizing how horrendous it was," adds Hanley. "Got a text about 5:30 PM saying, 'We're okay it's passed,' it was just a relief to my wife and I."
Since then, it's been a struggle to contact Tim. Cell service and internet still aren't fully restored to the island.
"Usually around 5 o'clock he calls because there's only one place on the island where signals can get out, and even then you could be talking and it breaks up, so it's frustrating."
Because communication is limited, residents in St. John don't know when help is coming or what's next.
"Yesterday they had 17 troopers come from St. Croix to lend some help on the ground. There's been various drops of food and supplies but he said, 'We don't know what happened to it. We didn't see a distribution point. ' "
There are still many unknowns at this point, but Jim believes the island will gain strength during this time of crisis.
"I'm optimistic for the long run," says Hanley. "It's going to be hard but they are resilient. They have to push no doubt. They will get through this."