By Molly Daly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A relief effort for St. John and St Thomas is underway at Northeast Philadelphia Airport after Hurricane Irma dealt the U.S. Virgin Islands a devastating blow.

Virgin Islands Relief Logistics Coordinator Jesse Vann, who lives on Coral Bay in St. John, says his team has assembled a fleet of private planes, with the first flights loaded with supplies heading out of Northeast Philadelphia Airport Monday.

Car loaded with water bottles for Hurricane Irma relief. (credit: Michelle Welk)

“For the most part, we’re taking batteries, fans, sunscreen, food, iodine tablets,” Vann said.

Forrest Hall, Jason McKibben, and Matt Mattiuz wheel boxes of supplies for Virgin Island relief effort. (credit: Michelle Welk)

St. John doesn’t have an airport and the St. Thomas Airport is too damaged, so they’ll fly into St. Croix and transport the materials by boat or helicopter, but getting them where they need to go is still a challenge.

“Another thing that we’re bringing down is a bunch of chainsaws. We have guys on the ground with heavy equipment, clearing roads,” said Vann.

Vann says while attending to immediate needs on St. John, he’s looking ahead.

“Our entire home got wiped out, so not only do we have to sustain the people there now, that are just basically scorching in the sun, trying to stay comfortable, and now we are focusing on rebuild. It is a paradise, and it needs to be saved,” he said.


If you would like to donate to the relief effort, you can do so on its Facebook page.