Kenny Chesney Continues to Assist Virgin Islands After Hurricane Irma: ‘He is Keeping Us Alive’
Earlier this month, Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean, leaving behind a path of destruction and killing at least 38 people. The U.S. and British Virgin Islands saw total devastation from the Category 5 storm, which destroyed roads, homes, and businesses throughout the tropical paradise.
Kenny Chesney, who has owned a house in St. John for several years, opened the doors to his home as a shelter to more than 15 people during the storm and later helped them evacuate the island after Irma passed.
The superstar is also helping total strangers in the aftermath of the storm. Brothers Jah-Haile and Jahbioseh Bruce shared their story of survival with CNN, recalling the moments the deadly hurricane hit their home as they sought shelter in their shower and held on for dear life.
“That’s the moment where I was terrified, because I felt like Irma was a spirit. I felt like I saw the hand grab the roof, squeeze it and throw it off into the wind. It was crazy,” Jahbioseh recounted.
The brothers fled St. John on a private boat to St. Croix, hoping to somehow catch a flight to Philadelphia to be with their mother. With no commercial flights in or out of the islands, it seemed as if the two were stranded. That’s where Chesney came in.
Although he wished to remain anonymous, CNN learned that the Tennessee native used his private jet to reunite the teenage boys with their mother. It’s a gesture that left the brothers speechless.
“I don’t even know what to say [other] than thank you,” Jah-Haile said.
Chesney’s disaster assistance didn’t end there. In a post shared by a St. John-based EMT named Jake Bradley, it was revealed that Kenny and his team have been working to get supplies to the island on a daily basis.
“Supplies, supplies, supplies. If you want to send anything to us, it needs to go through Jeff Quinlan. Contact him on FB. He has been coordinating with Mr. Kenny Chesney and his folks stateside to get us airdrops daily,” Bradley wrote. “That’s right, our medical supplies are being provided by a country singer, not the government. I have always respected Kenny Chesney as a musician, but over the last week I have grown to respect him as a man, an islander, and an American. He is keeping us alive, and I thank him for it.”
He then shared a heartfelt message directly to the “All The Pretty Girls” singer writing, “Kenny, if you ever see this know that from me as the EMT in the field who has been using those supplies, you have saved lives through your enormous generosity. The entire hospital nearly cried when we saw your first helicopter touch down with supplies a few days ago. Thank you.”
Although much of Chesney’s efforts to help the islands have been kept under the radar, he has been outspoken about the need for help in the area, making a handful of national media appearances to be a voice for his friends in the Virgin Islands.
“It’s hard to put it into words, because I have got so many memories, so many friends there, so many fabrics and pieces of my life on that island,” Chesney admitted to CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday (Sept. 12).
“The rebuilding is not going to be measured within a few days or a few weeks or a few months,” he added. “It’s going to be measured in years, sadly enough.”
The eight-time Entertainer of the Year established the Love for Love City Foundation in the days after the storm and called upon his No Shoes Nation to donate. He also created a limited edition line of merchandise to benefit disaster relief and recently shared a photo of himself in the studio recording music to benefit the fund (details on the new music have yet to be announced).
With Hurricane Maria now heading straight for the Virgin Islands as a Category 5, the folks there need more help than ever. To learn more about how you can help, visit KennyChesney.com.