Sending help home: Residents of US Virgin Islands take action stateside

Four friends from the U.S. Virgin Islands are joining together to get help to their home islands which were devastated by Hurricane Irma. (Courtesy Ben Steed)
Hearing about the need for food and supplies on the Virgin Islands, four friends are banding together to get help to their home islands which were devastated by Hurricane Irma. (Courtesy Ben Steed) (Courtesy Ben Steed)
Some of the supplies collected by Virgin Islands Relief. The group's organizers say there is a major demand for more since the islands were devastated by Hurricane Irma.
 (Courtesy Ben Steed)
Some of the supplies collected by Virgin Islands Relief. The group’s organizers say there is a major demand for more since the islands were devastated by Hurricane Irma. (Courtesy Ben Steed) (Courtesy Ben Steed)
Some of the volunteers for Virgin Islands Relief.
(Courtesy Ben Steed)
Some of the volunteers for Virgin Islands Relief. (Courtesy Ben Steed) (Courtesy Ben Steed)
Just some of the supplies collected by Virgin Islands relief.
(Courtesy Ben Steed)
Just some of the supplies collected by Virgin Islands relief. (Courtesy Ben Steed) (Courtesy Ben Steed)
A sign advertising a collection drop-off location set up by Virgin Islands relief in Philadelphia. (Courtesy Ben Steed)
A sign advertising a collection drop-off location set up by Virgin Islands relief in Philadelphia. (Courtesy Ben Steed) (Courtesy Ben Steed)
Some of the supplies collected by Virgin Islands Relief in Philadelphia. (Courtesy Ben Steed)
Some of the supplies collected by Virgin Islands Relief in Philadelphia. (Courtesy Ben Steed) (Courtesy Ben Steed)
The founders of Virgin Islands Relief talk to members of the media in Philadelphia.(Courtesy Ben Steed)
The founders of Virgin Islands Relief talk to members of the media in Philadelphia. (Courtesy Ben Steed) (Courtesy Ben Steed)
A woman with her two children walk past debris left by Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.  The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
A woman with her two children walk past debris left by Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo) (AP/Ricardo Arduengo)
This combo of natural-color images provided by NASA Earth Observatory shows the U.S. and British Virgin Islands islands on Aug. 25, 2017, top, before the the passage of Hurricane Irma, and after the storm passed, on Sept. 10, 2017. The islands, from left, are St. Thomas, St. John, Tortola and Virgin Gorda. Irma passed as a Category 5 storm. (Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory via AP)
This combo of natural-color images provided by NASA Earth Observatory shows the U.S. and British Virgin Islands islands on Aug. 25, 2017, top, before the the passage of Hurricane Irma, and after the storm passed, on Sept. 10, 2017. The islands, from left, are St. Thomas, St. John, Tortola and Virgin Gorda. Irma passed as a Category 5 storm. (Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory via AP) (AP/Joshua Stevens)
A speed limit sign stands tilted and a  power line that snapped it half lays on a building, after the passage of Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.  The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
A speed limit sign stands tilted and a power line that snapped it half lays on a building, after the passage of Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo) (AP/Ricardo Arduengo)
A man walks past debris caused by Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.  The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
A man walks past debris caused by Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo) (AP/Ricardo Arduengo)
Power lines are damaged after the passage of Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.  The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Power lines are damaged after the passage of Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo) (AP/Ricardo Arduengo)
Debris litters the street after the passage of Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.  The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Debris litters the street after the passage of Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo) (AP/Ricardo Arduengo)
Electricity lines affected by the passage of Hurricane Irma hag low in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.  The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Electricity lines affected by the passage of Hurricane Irma hag low in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo) (AP/Ricardo Arduengo)
A woman walks under affected power lines after the passage of Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.  The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
A woman walks under affected power lines after the passage of Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo) (AP/Ricardo Arduengo)
This image made from video shows several damaged houses by Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows several damaged houses by Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown) (AP/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows flooding caused by Hurricane Irma on Charlotte Amalie, in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows flooding caused by Hurricane Irma on Charlotte Amalie, in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown) (AP/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows damage from Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows damage from Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown) (AP/Ian Brown)
In this image made from video, neighbors clear debris from the road in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
In this image made from video, neighbors clear debris from the road in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown) (AP/Ian Brown)
In this image made from video shows a damage to a post office caused by Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
In this image made from video shows a damage to a post office caused by Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown) (AP/Ian Brown)
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Four friends from the U.S. Virgin Islands are joining together to get help to their home islands which were devastated by Hurricane Irma. (Courtesy Ben Steed)
Some of the supplies collected by Virgin Islands Relief. The group's organizers say there is a major demand for more since the islands were devastated by Hurricane Irma.
 (Courtesy Ben Steed)
Some of the volunteers for Virgin Islands Relief.
(Courtesy Ben Steed)
Just some of the supplies collected by Virgin Islands relief.
(Courtesy Ben Steed)
A sign advertising a collection drop-off location set up by Virgin Islands relief in Philadelphia. (Courtesy Ben Steed)
Some of the supplies collected by Virgin Islands Relief in Philadelphia. (Courtesy Ben Steed)
The founders of Virgin Islands Relief talk to members of the media in Philadelphia.(Courtesy Ben Steed)
A woman with her two children walk past debris left by Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.  The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
This combo of natural-color images provided by NASA Earth Observatory shows the U.S. and British Virgin Islands islands on Aug. 25, 2017, top, before the the passage of Hurricane Irma, and after the storm passed, on Sept. 10, 2017. The islands, from left, are St. Thomas, St. John, Tortola and Virgin Gorda. Irma passed as a Category 5 storm. (Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory via AP)
A speed limit sign stands tilted and a  power line that snapped it half lays on a building, after the passage of Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.  The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
A man walks past debris caused by Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.  The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Power lines are damaged after the passage of Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.  The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Debris litters the street after the passage of Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.  The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Electricity lines affected by the passage of Hurricane Irma hag low in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.  The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
A woman walks under affected power lines after the passage of Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.  The storm ravaged such lush resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
This image made from video shows several damaged houses by Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows flooding caused by Hurricane Irma on Charlotte Amalie, in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows damage from Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
In this image made from video, neighbors clear debris from the road in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
In this image made from video shows a damage to a post office caused by Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)

WASHINGTON — Four friends from the U.S. Virgin Islands are joining together to get help to their home islands devastated by Hurricane Irma.

Video and images taken on the islands of St. John and St. Thomas show what were once homes, businesses and resorts with picturesque views in the tropical paradise reduced to piles of rubble by the Category 5 storm.

Ben Steed, a charter boat captain from St. John was stateside on vacation, when Irma tore through his home island.

“It’s pretty devastating, those are our businesses, our homes, our roads, our beaches,” Steed said.

His family survived the storm with little damage, but the same isn’t true for many others in the close-knit island community.

Hearing about the dire need for food and supplies on the islands, Steed said he and four other friends who were also stateside joined forces and quickly organized a drive to collect the supplies people back home really need.

“The hope is to spread hope to those people who don’t have anything,” Steed said.

Since Wednesday, Steed said the four have formed Virgin Islands Relief Fund Inc. and set up shop at the Philadelphia International Airport, the same airport where flights to region to deliver the supplies are being organized.

Steed said the outpouring of support, powered by social media, has been amazing. The group has seen more than a thousand donations so far and plans to continue taking them as long as they are needed.

Steed said many donors are using services like Amazon to order and deliver their donations to the designated drop-off point.

“It’s turned into this huge thing, this amazing thing,” Steed said.

As of right now, Steed says reports from the islands show an immediate need for:

  • Nonperishable foods for adults and babies.
  • Toiletries
  • Baby wipes
  • Diapers
  • Pre-charged cellphone chargers
  • Clothing
  • Meals ready to eat (MRE’s)
  • Small Generators
  • 2-stroke oil
  • Chainsaws
  • Water
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Clothing
  • Blankets
  • Over the counter medications
  • Lanterns
  • Flashlights
  • First aid supplies
  • Coolers
  • Batteries
  • Safety equipment such as goggles, gloves and harnesses
  • Specialized straws which make contaminated water safe to drink

Donations can be delivered in person, or shipped to:
Virgin Islands Relief
c/o Atlantic Aviation
9800 Ashton Rd
Philadelphia PA 19114


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