SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Springfield business is helping restore the Virgin Islands with both money and manual labor. The territory was hit by two category five hurricanes in a span of 12 days in September.
Three TLC Properties employees traveled to St. Thomas during the first week of November. They helped rebuild the Humane Society building and now they are planning a second trip to complete that project and help with the cleanup.
“We’ve had a lot of water damage, most of our landscaping has been taken out,” said Rhea Vasconcellos, at the Humane Society in St. Thomas. “We are very lucky that we lost no dogs and we want to keep our doors open.”
Derek McCrea, director of property services at TLC Properties says he knew he wanted to help somehow.
“Just made sense that we have skilled laborers that work for us,” he said.
“Derek said that in a meeting: Why don’t we send people down there? And at first I was thinking, logistically, that would be difficult. What is the liability of sending employees down there? How would that work?” said Sam Coryell, president at TLC.
The company partnered with Convoy of Hope.
“So, all the sudden, what was, in my opinion, a longshot idea became a reality,” Coryell said.
McCrea learned one of the biggest challenges is access to supplies.
“The only store that we have for building supplies is Home Depot,” said Vasconcellos. “Home Depot has been closed for two months now and we have no idea when they are going to open.”
TLC is now planning a second trip the first week of January bringing electricians, plumbers, HVAC and contractors to help in their specific areas and general clean-up.
“Roads you can’t get through because of the debris. There are docks that fishing boats can’t come to port because there’s so much debris there,” McCrea said.
TLC is receiving donations that it will match with a four to one match.
“Until you’re down there and you see that destruction… that’s the motivating force to make us keep pushing through,” McCrea said. “The more donations we can get the more people we can help there.”
So far TLC has raised $5,600 hundred dollars from donations – that’s before the company’s match. Someone is lending them a plane to fly supplies to the islands and 12 pallets of dog food have also been donated.
To find out how you can help, click here.