This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Aurio Correa entered the hospital on the island of St. Thomas last August to prepare for knee surgery. The 89-year-old Virgin Islander had Alzheimer’s disease and dementia but was otherwise in good health for his age, according to his daughter, Luz Correa Chesterfield.
Before he could have the surgery at Schneider Regional Medical Center, Hurricane Irma struck the U.S. Virgin Islands in the early hours of Sept. 6. The Category 5 hurricane ripped through the island territory, which includes St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, and several minor Caribbean islands, with winds reaching 185 miles per hour.
The islands’ emergency plan was for patients and vulnerable people like Correa to shelter in place when the hurricane made landfall. But the storm badly damaged the two hospitals on the islands. “We had no idea the type of devastation that was going to occur to our hospitals and other clinical facilities,” USVI Health Commissioner Michelle Davis says.
With its healthcare system crippled, the Virgin Islands government, along with federal relie... Read more