Family that evacuated to Louisville after Hurricane Irma trying to help others in US Virgin Islands
"St. John is broken now," said three-year-old Rae Rudwell
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A family who recently evacuated to Louisville from the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricane Irma is trying to help storms victims back home with fundraising by sharing their story of survival.
"The whole top floor was gone, which is devastating in itself," Fiona Campbell said of her house on the island of St. John.
Pictures in the days after the storm showed her two young daughters, toys scattered on a mountain side, their cloths clinging to wind battered trees.
Even the kids, 3-year-old Rae and 5-year-old Georgia, remember the chilling experience.
"St. John is broken now," Rae said. "The roof came off."
The children rode out the 200 mile-per-hour winds and pounding rain on Sept. 5 while sitting on top of a counter playing with an iPad to distract them as water rushed beneath their feet. Campbell and her husband decided to hunker down with the children in a friend's home knowing their own wooden walls and thin roof wouldn't stand up to the category five storm
"It blew the house all the way down," Georgia said. "And then there was a second hurricane, and my friend's house blew down."
A month after Hurricane Irma, most of the island of St. John still has no power. Roughly 3,000 of about 4,000 residents have evacuated.
"We saw a St. John that we didn't recognize. Every leaf off every tree had gone," Campbell said. "It was a lush, beautiful, green island, and it looked like a wasteland."
The young girls shared their story Thursday at their new school, Hayfield Montessori in the Highlands. The family relocated to Kentucky to live with family, but their hearts remain with neighbors still living in the eye of destruction at home in St. John.
"(We're) providing them with resources, with funding," Campbell said. "Families who are homeschooling -- all their books have been soaked through."
Campbell said only one school is open on the entire island. Many families lack basic necessities like food, clothes and water.
Hayfield Montessori School joined the fundraising effort with a book drive and a drive to get people to donate for medical expenses or directly to a family in need.
"We have so much love and support," Campbell said with tears flowing from her eyes. "We just want to do our best to support others."
To donate to St. John families affected by Hurricane Irma, click on the following links:
Island Health & Wellness Center (provides free prescriptions and health care)
Adopt a Family in USVI (organizes care kits with specific items needy by storm ravaged families)
Anyone wishing to take part in the book drive can deliver books directly to:
Hayfield Montessori School
2000 Tyler Lane, Louisville, KY. 40205
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