During the daylight hours of September 6th, 2017, what appeared to be a category 5 hurricane began to sweep over the Virgin Islands, with the British Virgin Islands laying directly in the path of the eye of the storm. This territory compromising of roughly 30,000 people have faced their fair share of storm in the past, but nothing could have prepared them for what was to come. With winds that were charted at 180mph surpassing the parameters that defined a category 5 storm, cyclones and tornadoes circulating within the storm, the hurricane that devastated my country was recorded as the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin outside of the Gulf of Mexico.
The storm completely devastated my country, literally ripping our concrete structures out of the ground, stripping them of everything until only the shell remained. As a student living abroad during the hurricane was extremely hard, I was unable to reach my family for days at a time, left to wonder if they had even survived. In the days and months that followed I heard a lot of discouraging rhetoric regarding the nature of the storm and damage caused. People made comparisons to the effect the storm ha down it passed over Miami, and used those comparisons to validate our damage, saying that our houses and buildings were poorly made “shacks”, or that it was better we caught the brunt of the storm than the US as if we somehow deserved the devastation we faced.
It has been almost 3 years since then, and my people are a resilient people. When they flew in with body bags to collect our dead, we showed them how we had survived against all odds. We have rebuilt, carried ourselves and each-other out of the mud and learned to live again. The purpose of this project is to educate, but also to provide an outlet for the pain and trauma that has been stored within us for so many years. Here you will not only see the damage, but you will hear the stories of the people as they give testimony to their experiences.