Members of Brooklyn clergy and local elected officials called on the city and federal government to assist them in bringing aid and more attention for the U.S. Virgin Islands in Crown Heights on Oct. 25. Some members of the clergy feel that the reaction from the state was insufficient, said a reverend.
“What we are looking for here today is to put pressure on the city, on the state, to deliver the manpower and supplies, and to deliver even funds where funds are needed,” said Rev. Daryl G. Bloodsaw.
“Two hurricanes in a span of a week and a half, devastated all three islands and what we’re calling on the city to do is to respond in a like manner as we have with other places such as Houston and Puerto Rico.”
Earlier this month, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other parts of the Caribbean were hit by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The catastrophic disaster ravaged most of the infrastructure and power grid on the territory’s three islands leaving residents in a vulnerable state of need.
Bloodsaw said that there was an imbalance in the response to U.S. territories in the region, when there was an urgent need for both.
“We’re not standing here to say we shouldn’t do anything for Puerto Rico because truthfully they have seen some response but there is a dire need for greater response,” he added. “What we can’t do is focus solely on Puerto Rico and not do anything about what’s going on St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix — these are U.S. citizens.”
With electricity expected to be fully restored until March of next year, the government should do more to assist and do more for the islands. Pastor Gilford Monrose from Mount Zion Church of God, who organized the call to action, said immediate attention is needed.
“Two of the hospitals have been totally destroyed. In the island of St. Croix, eight out of 12 schools are destroyed, and St. John is totally without electricity, and on St. Thomas only 30 percent have electricity and this is day 43,” said Monrose. “We’re asking for compassion, and we’re asking not to be overlooked the way we are. We are Americans and we don’t want to be treated as second class Americans but we believe New York state and city have the resources to help.”
State Sen. Jess Hamilton (D–Brownsville) and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson (D-Crown Heights) who also attended the event appealed for support from the city and residents to help the Caribbean.
Monrose said the city being home to one of the largest Caribbean parades and Diasporas from the region, there was a strong need to help the Caribbean.
“We stand on Eastern Parkway where in the month of September the largest parade goes up and down every year,” he said. “Elected officials come and enjoy the culture of the Caribbean, and therefore when we believe the Caribbean region needs help, I think as the greatest city in the world, our response to U.S. Virgin Islands has not been the greatest. So we are asking, calling, praying, compelling, and hoping our message resonates with the people of the world.”