Hurricane Irma and Maria impacted the coastal communities in the US Virgin Islands during the fall of 2017. Help.NGO immediately deployed its Disaster Immediate Response Team (DIRT) to in the aftermath of the storms and based personnel in Puerto Rico and St. John. The team provided key communications infrastructure to affected communities allowing them to reconnect with family and receive life saving assistance. The DIRT team, in partnership with St John Rescue, handled key logistics and coordination during the relief stage in USVI and coordinated with other organizations on the ground to help provide key needs and get the infrastructure restored. This includes work with partners in health, debris clearing, energy needs, housing, communications, etc. Help.NGO partnered with Love City Strong in St. John on a massive canvassing project visiting every structure on the island and surveying the needs of the people on a consistent basis. The project was conducted in phases, beginning with immediate needs, especially with regards to health, and prioritizing needs for the following phases in partnership and based on the information needed by the organizations on the ground in St. John.
Additionally, in both USVI and Puerto Rico, Help.NGO implemented critical communications capabilities to teams and people in the U.S. Virgin Islands, including internet and cellular communications. We have been partnering with many organizations on this endeavor including Cubic Mission Solutions GATR technology, Nethope, Cisco, Google, and Facebook to get internet connections where they are needed, as well as Vanu, Inc., who provided their cellular communications units that make it possible for people to place phone calls and texts in areas that others have been unable to reach. Communications are always a top priority during any disaster, and so we have been aiming to fill this void with our partners on this project.