Our good friend Chuck and "journalist" extraordinaire has said that he has work to do, so will not be posting so regularly. We totally understand, although we shall miss the writings.
First, the good news. The mosquitoes seem to be subsiding somewhat. They’re not gone, but they are fewer in number and less aggressive. Less aggressive would not describe the Thrasher birds, which are obnoxious under the best of circumstances. One landed on my table this morning and attempted to eat my oatmeal. While I was eating it! I’m, of course, referring to Quaker brand oatmeal, manufactured by The Quaker Oats Company of Chicago, Illinois. Zip Code 60606.
One of my Facebook friends suggested I add a Bay leaf to my carton of oatmeal to repel the bugs. Apparently, that solution also works with flour and cornmeal. Who knew? So, I believe I have a new product suggestion for Quaker. I think they should introduce a special “Survival” variant, with a Bay leaf already added to the container. Quaker Oats: available in Instant, Old Fashioned and Survival varieties. You heard it here first.
The BVI is settling-in to what will be a long, arduous road to recovery. I understand power will be switched on in one section of town today. The Electricity Corporation crews are making steady progress in getting the main transmission lines up, though the vast majority of the island is still without power.
Let me be clear - we are still in an emergency situation, but our needs are shifting. Immediately after Irma, we were desperate for essentials like water and food. Some people had only the clothing they were wearing. With prisoners on the loose, we were afraid for our safety and urgently needed the military for protection and to restore order. Thankfully, that time has passed. We are safe, aid has arrived and, though there are long lines, there's plenty of food in our stores and gas at our gas stations.
The island, though, is a monumental mess with debris everywhere and boats in massive piles, many de-masted and upside down. Tortola still looks like a war zone, more than three weeks after Irma struck.
Most people are cleaning up mountains of debris and making temporary repairs. Even the most basic and temporary repair efforts will undoubtedly go on for months and months. It’s going to be a tough slog to get things cleaned up and back to where they were, pre-storm. Frankly, I expect a few more people will “bugger off” once they get a better handle on how difficult it will be to rebuild their lives and businesses and evaluate their options.
Having said that, a few have started shifting to long-term rebuilding efforts. Several tourist-related businesses and charter fleets will be up and running shortly. For others, this coming season will be lost. Some charter boats that had a loyal following have been destroyed and it will be hard for them to recover. It may take a couple of seasons.
While the BVI is having its troubles, other Caribbean destinations are seizing this opportunity to snatch business this season and long-term share of market, with negative campaigns. Other tourist destinations that were not as affected are stepping up their marketing efforts. Cruise ships are rerouting.
I understand some Financial Services companies in at least one other jurisdiction (I won’t name names) are claiming the BVI is dead and encouraging companies to relocate there. Of course, the BVI isn’t dead and our Financial Services sector is strong. It was one of the first things up and running after the storm.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind the BVI will completely recover from this. All the elements that made us a thriving center for tourism and financial services are still there. In fact, if the Government uses Irma as a “reset” button and removes some “friction” from the system to make it easier for businesses to operate here, we could emerge even stronger and more vibrant than before.
But, for the BVI to recover, the hard reality is that we need cash. Cash must flow into the territory from the outside in large sums in the form of insurance proceeds, direct investment, charities and donations, company formations, and tourist dollars. To all those who want to help, my message is simple. Travel to the BVI, Invest in the BVI, and Buy in the BVI.
I am absolutely swamped with work now and need to concentrate on cleanup, insurance issues, ordering needed materials, dealing with contractors, and earning a living. I know lots of people are following me, but please be understanding. For many personal reasons, I need to suspend my regular Facebook entries for a while. I may pop-on every now and then, post some pics from the storm, or make an entry if there’s something newsworthy, but things are now falling into a routine.
I apologize if I haven’t responded to some questions, private messages, or Friend requests, but I’ve been inundated. Cell service is still not available at my house and basic communications continue to be a challenge. Your prayers and kind words of encouragement have been overwhelming during these trying times and have meant a lot to me. Thank you.
All things considered, I’ve been very lucky. I fared better than most and I have life.
…And my giant Unicorn pool float. So I've got that going for me. Which is nice.