I came into Beef Island Tuesday Sept 12 and Left Friday Sept 15. Some of the crew stayed until Monday sept 18.
Strong Military presence at the airport, but mostly there just to help- replacing lights on the runway, cleaning up, and so forth. As we entered the customs agents all told us "thank you for coming." Any help, money, and good spirits are appreciated.
We were trying to get power back on and start getting de-sal plants up.
Here are some pictures of the spots in North Sound- Bitter end, Saba rock, Trellis bay, Etc. A few pictures in Spanish Town.
I was amazed at how people had already started really getting things done in just 9 days. Cleaning up, dump trucks running around, barges moving in certain places, and so forth. Lots of destruction but it is still a beautiful place- coming in by boat it was clear to me that tourism and people will return in short order. The topography, water, and beaches can't be taken away. No signs of any sort of aggression or problems anywhere from what I had seen- Stories of people looking for fuel, etc but nothing more than those that are hurting looking for an opportunity. I didn't see any reason to buy into the news about looting or violence or any of that- Again, granted, Virgin Gorda experience only...
The weirdest part is there is no foliage left- It looks like there was a forest fire everywhere.
Most concrete structures faired very well- timber frame not as much. I think this will hopefully lead to some changes in attention to detail and following of engineered specs, although that can be tough in the islands at times. I saw buildings that would have been completely fine but lost their roof- engineering called for a 3/4" bolt, someone used a 1/2" bolt with washer in a 3/4" hole- the washer simply turned into a cone and pulled right through the 3/4" drilled hole and the roof went sailing. A few small details here and there lead to a lot of failures.
Leverick resort looked salvagable but many of the houses are completely gone in the area to the East.
YCCS yacht club looks salvagable but the dock must have completely floated off the pilings. It was rated for a 9-14' surge or so, but I can't remember exactly. It sounded like they were working on and close to getting their water plant up and running.
Biras (which was closed) didn't look too good. restaurant on the hill in rough shape.
Bitter end suffered in a major way. A few of the lower villas look salvagable as do some other areas, but they unfortunately got hit hard. I really hope that they can get some core moving again in time as they were such a core part of North Sound. Main dock still in pretty good shape.
Saba rock- decks and docks gone, but the rest looked fixable. I was told they had 1-2 rooms still that could be slept in on the hotel side.
didn't think to look at sandy spit.
The people of VG are really an incredible bunch- I can't say enough how impressed I was with how everything was being handled- Nothing but positive outlooks and attitudes given the situation. Really an impressive group of people overall- but I guess we all knew that already.
What happened is incredibly tragic and it's easy for me to come to a "positive" outcome as someone who didn't live through the storm, but my hope here is to give a positive outook (at least for virgin gorda- I am not nearly as in touch with Tortola or other islands) There is no question about rebuilding in VG- Many of the landholders there with deep pockets are dead set on it and I think most will be surprised how quickly the islands rebuild, even if they are a bit different, for good and bad. From what I can tell, most of the bigger resorts around VG I saw are already secure, with power, starting to make potable water, and putting people back to work cleaning up and rebuilding. And that was 10 days ago.
From what I heard they are also very aware of the importance of rebuilding the local communities and towns- Even if it is somewhat self serving, the owners of resorts and properties understand that without a housed and happy work force they are out of luck as far as rebuilding goes. They seem to understand that people don't travel to the BVI's just for the beaches, sailing charters, and villas but the unique nature of the local people and environment. Time will tell.
I hope to get an update on the airport situation, travel, etc in the next few days as another group I work with at times arrived today.
Sorry for the long story, just wanted to share what updates I can from a place that has meant a lot to me for the last 7+ years.