Friends,

Last month, the Virgin Islands experienced two powerful category-5 hurricanes in less than two weeks. Hurricane Irma severely damaged St. Thomas, St. John, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and many islands in the northeast Caribbean. Twelve days later Hurricane Maria arrived and battered St. Croix, Puerto Rico, and Dominica. Many homes and businesses were destroyed, and some people lost everything. St. Croix, which served as the staging ground for relief efforts in St. Thomas and St. John was now in need. For the first time in modern history, the entire Virgin Islands was without electricity, and all radio stations were down. While these hurricanes have temporarily changed the beauty of our islands, they will make us stronger.

Virgin Islanders are resilient, and although the damage was severe, every day is better than the day before.

  • Three days after Maria hit, some portions of downtown Christiansted had electricity restored.
  • Both airports in the Virgin Islands and all seaports have resumed commercial service. Cruise ships will return November 10 and St. Croix will see a 125% increase in cruise ship calls this season.
  • Virgin Islands basketball great Tim Duncan has delivered three planeloads of food and supplies. Virgin Islanders and other Americans across the United States have sent almost a million pounds of supplies.
  • Every day more and more businesses are reopening. So far at least 50 businesses have reopened in downtown Christiansted.
  • Hundreds of relief workers from FEMA and power companies from the United States are in the Virgin Islands assisting with the recovery.

The current curfew begins at 8 pm every evening and temporarily limits dining, entertaining, and travel options. For an up-to-date list of changes, visit the Department of Tourism Special Update website, http://usviupdate.com.

In the days ahead we will rebuild, and life will begin to feel normal again. The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority aim to have at least 90% of service restored before Christmas and the governor has assembled a task force to begin the process of rebuilding an even more resilient Virgin Islands.

Stay tuned for more updates on the recovery of the Virgin Islands. Be sure to visit our Facebook page and Like us for helpful rebuilding tips, FEMA announcements, and updates on business reopenings. We look forward to an even more beautiful Virgin Islands, and we look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your continued support. #VirginIslandsStrong

– Caryn and Stephanie

The residential, condo, and land markets continue to do well. The average sales price of homes has increased by 13%. There is still tremendous value in St. Croix’s real estate market.

The condo market has vitality and units continue to move from active to under contract status at a rapid pace.  The average sales price, while down, continues to inch up as transactions close.

Land sales are continuing its strong performance. Even though the average sales price is down slightly, more units are under contract than during the same time period last year.

The commercial market has seen a decrease in activity but the average sales price remains steady. We expect the statistics to improve and reveal a much healthier commercial sector as confidence in St. Croix’s future continues to blossom.

Elkhorn and Staghorn corals, on the critically endangered species list, are one classification away from being extinct in the wild. “The Caribbean without coral reefs is not some place I would like to imagine…The reefs really define our lives as islanders [our culture, the fish we eat, the snorkeling, our wildlife]…it’s not going to happen in my lifetime because I will continue to work…” said VI Native Kemit-Amon Lewis, Coral Conservation Manager for the Nature Conservancy Caribbean Program.

The coral restoration process used by Amon Lewis and SECORE Int’l grows larvae in nurseries, settles the baby coral on cement tetrapods to develop over a year or so, and out plants the new colonies to help reseed the ocean. New spawning methods have multiplied spawns from a few hundred to 25,000 corals. These new colonies can be found at Green Cay, The Buccaneer, Cane Bay, and several beaches throughout the east end of the island. To reverse the adverse effects of sea bleaching, scientists and citizens depend on out planting, identifying environmental threats and helping to remove them, sustainable fishing initiatives and sourcing sustainable seafoods, and avoiding the little things that impact our ocean and climate change – such as plastic waste.

Lewis urges the community to get involved in efforts to reverse sea bleaching. Visit Reefconnect.org to volunteer and snorkel in coral restoration out planting programs. If you snorkel and see bleaching, it’s as easy as dropping a pin on a map through the BleachwatchVI app at http://www.reefconnect.org/bleachwatch/. Through eco-friendly, sustainable choices, we as Virgin Islanders can work alongside these progressive scientists to save our reefs.

What better way to complement island life than to enjoy fresh locally grown produce, meats, and seafood? Just as Christiansted is experiencing a renaissance, agriculture in St. Croix has seen tremendous growth over the last few years.  More farmers are practicing sustainable agriculture and reducing our dependence on imported foods into the territory.  Many grocery stores now sell local produce and meats.

The Nature Conservancy created the Reef Responsible program to celebrate restaurants that support local fishers and make conscious decisions about the seafood that they purchase, prepare, and serve. This October students in the Virgin Islands enjoyed more local produce as part of National Farm to School month.  Organizations such as the Ridge To Reef Organic and Permaculture Farm host internship programs geared towards the delicate craft of sustainable farming.

Our local farmers understand that the key to sustainable agriculture is finding the right balance between food production and preservation of ecosystems. Sustainable farming will benefit the islands for generations to come. Here are just a few sustainable farms, located on St. Croix:

Saturday morning is the most popular day and time to shop the farms and markets. Go early and come with a basket full of  healthy deliciousness.

Photo Courtesy: Cruzan Organix Farm

St. Croix: It’s one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean. And its location means that for U.S. citizens it’s a very convenient place to buy a vacation home or move. St. Croix has many special attributes. Americans find comfort in the fact that it is a US territory and so much is familiar and easy to navigate because of that. It is also very beautiful, with crystal clear blue waters, a wide variety of flora and fauna and elevations. We have excellent restaurants and supermarkets. It’s a very warm and welcoming community and people find that it’s easy to get settled there.

Read more: http://www.caribjournal.com/2016/12/19/buy-home-st-croix/