The United States Virgin Islands is a beautiful place whose location regularly exposes it to fierce, destructive tropical storms. In 2017, two intense storms pummeled the islands in quick succession, straining the abilities and resources of aid organizations to their limits.
Business leaders like Kirk Chewning played important roles in the recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria by stepping up to provide more assistance than had previously been available. As one of the founders of Cane Bay Partners, Chewning has become a prominent and supportive member of the United States Virgin Islands community. The Cane Bay Cares nonprofit he and his colleagues set up to help with the disaster response ended up being an especially important piece of the puzzle.
An Important New Group Arises in the Midst of Disaster
When Hurricane Irma passed over the United States Virgin Islands, the heavily populated islands of St. John and St. Thomas absorbed the brunt of the blow. Hurricane Maria arrived only weeks later, focusing its own destructive ire on the island of St. Croix.
That one-two punch would have been devastating had it been delivered in any conceivable way, but the spread out nature of the resulting damage made for an especially challenging response. Even though aid groups had rightly rushed to support St. John and St. Thomas right away, their responsiveness left them largely unable to offer much help to the people of St. Croix.
Fortunately, Chewing and others at Cane Bay Partners were ready to ensure that all such gaps would be filled. At the end of September, they created a new nonprofit called “Cane Bay Cares” that was tasked with lending a hand.
Protecting, Rebuilding, and Working Toward a Brighter Future
That move proved decisive, as it meant that St. Croix received far more support than would have otherwise been available. Within a surprisingly short amount of time, Cane Bay Cares raised $200,000 in donations, with Cane Bay Partners matching every penny. As a result, what had initially been expected to be an especially troublesome recovery effort went much more smoothly than most had even dared to hope.