Hurricane Irma — How You Can Help with Relief Efforts

14 September 2017 By Hillary Hoffower

One of the strongest storms ever recorded in Atlantic,Hurricane Irma barreled through the Caribbean and Florida last week andweekend. At her strongest, she was a Category 5 storm with winds around 185miles per hour and left muchdestruction in her wake, major yachting communities not excluded. From theravaged British and U.S. Virgin Islands to the destruction of Barbuda, here’show you and your fellow yachties can assist with relief efforts.

The Caribbean

Chief Stewardess Megan Runyon of M/Y Dorothea III has been working with her fellow crew and YachtAidGlobal (YAG) in trying to coordinate a way to provide resources to those indesperate need. “YAG has worked hard to facilitate communication to assess theneeds of the islands and has staged cargo in various locations around theCaribbean as well as in Southern California and Fort Lauderdale,” shesays. “The issue is getting these resources to the islands in an orderlyand effective manner. Currently, we are attempting to help these effortsby bringing supplies to some of the less populated, often forgotten about, islandsin the Southern Caribbean.”

If your yacht can help transit cargo ready to go to those inneed or donate to YAG so they can properly allocate those supplies, headhere. YAG is also looking for on-the-ground volunteering for those who wishto aid a specific location.

You can also support the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund.

St. Kitts

Cristina Bernardini, director of business development atChristophe Harbour, told Boat International, “The marina at Christophe Harbouris open and available to provide fuel for vessels in need as well as berthingservices for those displaced by the storm. We have also partnered with YachtAidGlobal and are its regional base of operations for helping our neighbors inneed.”

They have received an outpouring of support, accommodations,and transport services requests from neighboring islands and are coordinatingrelief efforts with the government and other stakeholders, including theDepartment of Maritime Affairs and St. Kitts Nevis Chamber of Industry andCommerce.

St. Barths

Former yachtie and owner of Mango Yacht Services Kevin Lawrie says, "There is a lot of devastation everywhere on my little rock of St. Barths. Yes, there a lot of wealthy people who visit, but the reality is...hardworking individuals who are not millionaires have lost some or everything due to this hurricane."

To help, donate to this fundraiser that Lawrie is working with. "They were the first group on the ground with generators, food, water, work gloves, solar chargers, etc.," he says. "More stuff is arriving today [September 15] and then another load with myself next week...whatever you can is appreciated."

Virgin Islands

The U.S. Marines Twitter page stated, “More than 1,100Marines are providing support to the victims of Hurricane Irma. They’re armedwith 35 aircraft, 54 wheeled or tracked vehicles, and 28 Zodiacs. They are ableto support with search and rescue operations, providing purified water, aerialreconnaissance, and distributing medical technicians and equipment.”

After spending a lot of time in the Virgin Islands, having alot of friends there, and hearing firsthand about its destruction followingIrma, crewmember Lizelle van der Walt decided to create a fundraiser for St.Thomas and St. John. “I am sure a lot of yacht crew are also feeling that theywant to help the people affected there,” she says. Proceeds from the fundraiserwill send a shipping container of emergency donations on Wednesday, September20, to the VI Relief Organization in St. Thomas. Email if youwould like to donate.

You can also donate to this GoFundMe;the organizers are establishing a transportation chain to get supplies to St.Thomas and St. John from St. Croix via Caribbean Sea Adventures, QE4, BigBeards, the Crucian Navy, and Water Spirit. “They are doing a great job, evenpacking hundreds of lunch boxes a day!” says van der Walt.

Former crewmember Jody Olson, former deck/stew on M/Y D’Natalin IV and M/Y Arioso and former deckhand on M/Y Harle, is from St. Thomas. She hasdesigned #VIstrong t-shirts to purchase — $25 for short sleeves and $31 forlong sleeves. One hundred percent of profits will go to the CommunityFoundation of the Virgin Islands to help rebuild what was lost. Buyone here.

Meanwhile, U.S. Virgin Island national and retired NBA starTim Duncan is organizing relief through youcaring.comby chartering a plane full of supplies to St. Croix, the largest town in theU.S. Virgin Islands. He donated the first $250,000 to the campaign and pledgedto match every donated dollar up to the first $1 million.

Richard Branson also set up a fund to help small, isolatedcommunities of the British Virgin Islands that are difficult to provide aid to.Branson and the Virgin Group are covering all overheads for the fund, whichmeans 100 percent of donations will go toward relief effort. Visit

St. Maarten

Yacht agent Earl Wyatt told Boat International Media, “Donot give up on St. Maarten as yet. We have done this before and bounce backquicker than a lot has imagined.”

Capt. Lucille Frye of BWA organized a boat to bring suppliesin and will be purchasing supplies and collecting donations from other islandsto ship in to assist with medical supplies, food, clothing, and bedding. Alongwith her co-fundraisers, she plans to use the money as directly as possible tobuy the most needed supplies, which will be distributed to St. Maarten first. Donate here.

Communications company Axxess Marine also started an emergency relief fund, and you can help the animals of St. Maarten by donating to SXM Paws relief.

The K1 Britannia Foundation has been working tirelessly to aid in whatever way they can, from food and water distribution to helping rebuild daycares and schools. They will be raising awareness at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show about the state of the islands and the foundation's projects to help the communities get back on their feet. To get involved or donate, head to or

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua got away with minimal damage, but Barbuda wasessentially devastated — Prime Minister Gaston Browne cited to the media thatit will cost no less than $150 million to repair infrastructure and the homeson the island.

They are raising a significant amount of resources torebuild the island. Aid for Barbuda arrived in Antigua on September 8 in theform of three cargo planes carrying more than 54 tonnes of hurricane relief.

The San-Diego-based Waitt Institute has set up a trust tohelp restore its partner community of Barbuda. The trust received an initialgrant of $100,000 from the Waitt Foundation and is collecting further funds tohelp with emergency humanitarian relief and long-term restoration. One hundredpercent of donations will help the community, and the Waitt Foundation willmatch all donations. Visit

Turks and Caicos

According to the Department of Disaster Management andEmergencies (DDME), the process for engaging the TCI Government to donaterelief items is as follows:

“1. An official letter providing the list of items,quantities, values, port origin, and proposed schedule time for arrival in theProvidenciales Port

2. An official letter providing names of all persons, alongwith copies of his/her respective passport bio-data page

3. Any other supporting information”

Once receiving the information, the DDME will process thedocuments and respond with necessary clearance. Contact for any additionalclarification.

Cuba and Haiti

CARE International is providing drinking water, soap,mattresses, towels, tarpaulins for emergency shelters, and hot meals forshelters as well as materials to help families rebuild their homes. Donate at


While not affected by Irma, Barbados is serving as adistributing hub for delivering medical reserves, rations, clean water, andemergency shelter kits to islands in need, thanks to the help of the Royal Marines.

Betty Cathrow, marketing manager of Blue Sky Luxury, toldBoat International, “As an organization, we are gathering what we can andworking with some of our homeowners who are making donations to support therebuilding of these islands. We are also putting together an appeal to allowany of our incoming guests to contribute to the relief effort by way ofbringing a small ‘pack’ of items with them when they visit, which we willensure goes to one of the relief organizations.”

The Barbados Chamber of Commerce and the Barbados HotelTourism Association, as well as other individuals, are also banding together togather needed supplies for the islands.


While Grenada remained untouched, Camper & Nicholsons’Port Louis Marina in Grenada is actively helping in a relief effort withsupplies leaving the marina to reach destinations in the north. While they areno longer taking in donated goods, linens, clothes, non-perishable foods,bottled water, first aid supplies, nappies, and baby formula are beingcollected at a number of points, including the True Blue Hotel and the SSU Campat Point Salines International Airport.


The American Red Cross is seeking volunteers to helpcoordinate on-the-ground relief efforts, from serving food and providing comfortto unloading supplies and setting up emergency facilities. You can also donate$10­ to 1,000 online and via mail or phone. Visit

The Hurricane Irma Appeal is dedicated solely to thoseaffected in Florida, using 100 percent of donations to provide emergencyshelter, deliver short-term food parcels, and help those who lost everything.Visit


The following charities are taking donations for Irma reliefefforts:

The British Red Cross will match up to £3million for every pound donated by the public. Local Red Crossvolunteers are already stationed to provide first aid, shelter, and drinkingwater. Visit

Oxfam allows you to donate any amount and will use the moneyto provide hygiene kits and clean drinking water and build toilet and washfacilities for families without a home.

Save the Children is taking donations to help support itsEmergency Health Unit in the Caribbean caring for those injured by the storm.Donations will go towards support across all areas for the four millionchildren living in Irma’s path.

Best Friends Animal Society is providing help for theanimals of Hurricane Irma.

If you are working on relief efforts not mentioned above,please email

Photo: Facebook/SMN News