The Day after the Devastation of Hurricane Maria


Msgr. Michael Kosak – Pastor Emeritus, St. Ann Church, Barrenspot, St.Croix, U.S.V.I.

THE DAY AFTER…in 1983, millions of people saw this TV movie, an apocalyptic film on a nuclear explosion.

On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, after struggling through the night with the category 5 hurricane called Maria, I remembered that film – total devastation. The howling winds raged from 10:00 pm until 4:00 am and uprooted our trees, knocked down our poles, tore the roofs off our rectory, office building, and sacristy and caused some to take refuge huddled in the bath tub. This surreal moment paralyzed our consciousness…the day after.

Hope springs eternal as our human spirit responds to living a rather primitive life. Most homes are built on cisterns and the rain water is used for our daily needs. However, without electricity, the pump lies dormant and buckets must be used for bathing, flushing, and cooking, over coal pots for many, and gas ovens for others. If there is a grill in the backyard with a supply of propane, you won the lottery. The curfew kept us in our homes for a week and, slowly, it was lifted, four hours, then six, and eventually all day and finally all night. The roads were impassable but our first responders did an heroic job and the governmental agencies brought in food, water, shelter, and security. Although the airport was closed for two weeks, several mercy flights helped to evacuate the sick, elderly and others. A cruise ship continues to sit in the Frederiksted Harbor to house the National Guard and the many volunteers who have come to our aid.

So much more can be said as we continue to sit in darkness and wait for some kind of normalcy. The line men and women are working 24/7 and power is being restored in some areas. Our governor is hopeful that 90% will have light before Christmas. Generators buzz everywhere but even more are without any light. We are resilient and have gone through it before. I remember David in 1979, Hugo in 1989, Marilyn in 1995 (many other skirmishes but not direct hits) and now Irma and Maria in 2017. We shall overcome! He’s got the whole world in his hands.

Although I write from St. Croix, Hurricane Irma did to St. Thomas and St. John what Hurricane Maria did to St. Croix. I am grateful that all our Catholic Churches and Schools are now back on schedule. Thanks to all who are remembering us in your prayers and for all who have donated to the Hurricanes Relief Collection for the Diocese.

Please help with your prayers and Donate to the Hurricanes Relief Collection for the Catholic Diocese of the U.S.V.I.