United States

St. Thomas Before and After Hurricane Irma

One St. Thomas resident wants people on the U.S. mainland to see the damage he and others are living with in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“It’s pure carnage,” Jeff Saplis said. “The wind has stripped everything.”

Hurricane Irma was a Category 5 when the storm slammed the tiny island on Wednesday on its way west to Puerto Rico, Cuba and eventually Florida. 

Saplis has lived on the island for 20 years and on Monday, he grew emotional talking about what it’s like to drive around and view the damage.

Just when you think things are bad, he explained, “the next block is worse."

Saplis built a custom home in the Neltjeberg section, on the north west corner of the island.

[NATL] Hurricane Irma Lashes Through the Caribbean

The former Chicagoan decided to move to St. Thomas to open a restaurant after a rough winter two decades ago. His wife is a flight attendant for a U.S. airline company. 

The couple decided to ride out the storm on the island even though they have a home in Florida.

He shared an image from his home taken within a month of each other. In one, the trees on the island are lush and green. In the one taken Monday, the landscape is brown.

Standing on his patio, Saplis said all you can hear are the sounds of U.S. Coast Guard and military helicopters and chain saws in the distance.

As for food and water, Saplis said those who can are getting shipments of supplies in from the mainland but are concerned they will need armed guards to get their items safely.

“You can pray for us,” Saplis said.

The Virgin Islands Port Authority anticipates the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas will reopen for daily commercial flights on September 16, according to the government's website.

The governor of St. Thomas has said two cruise ships will be removing people from the island on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

The Norwegian Sky will leave St. Thomas at 4 p.m. local time and take passengers directly to Miami, Florida.

Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas is estimated to depart St. Thomas late Tuesday night for San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Contact Us