WASHINGTON — One boat at a time, volunteered private sailing vessels are helping create a supply chain between the U.S. mainland and the Caribbean, to the tiny, hurricane-ravaged Jost Van Dyke of the British Virgin Islands.
“We’ve organized several private vessels to augment the commercial shipping,” said Chris Cloud, who, together with his wife Debbie, lived on the island for more than two years and managed a small resort there. They moved back to Northern Virginia last spring.
“If we fill this boat up, and we have excess supplies — which I really believe we will — there’s another boat right behind it that’s going to go down,” Cloud said. Another boat is scheduled to depart from Annapolis, Maryland, in a few weeks.
“Our friends and family on that island are really in need of basic items,” Cloud added.
Jost Van Dyke residents are struggling with a lack of drinking water, electricity and adequate housing. Many of the concrete structures that survived hurricanes Irma and Maria — which were Category 5 storms at some point — are without roofs.
“Tents don’t work. They have storms that come through,” Debbie Cloud said. “So we’re trying to get them building supplies, tools and ways to build their lives back up again.”
A frequent problem after disasters is that although donors are giving with good intentions, many of the items aren’t useful.
“They end up with 75,000 teddy bears when they need bug repellent,” Chris Cloud said.
Items purchased through Amazon will be shipped to donated space at a Georgia Freight Forwarding location, where the most efficient method of shipment to the island directly is determined. Sometimes, that will be in a container ship that’s donated space or forwarded to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to go on another of the volunteered private boats going to the island.
To drop off and/or help load donations onto the Rendezvous Cay that’s leaving Southwest D.C. on Saturday, Oct. 28, people can go to the James Creek Marina at 200 V St. SW at 10:30 a.m.
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