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The Human Toll British Virgin Islands & Hurricane Irma

On September 6, 2017, Hurricane Irma struck the British Virgin Islands (BVI) as a Category 5 hurricane, causing extensive damage to property and infrastructure in the Territory, and statistically significant levels of depopulation.

Hurricane Irma was the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to strike land and it ran a devastating course through the island chain. Trees weren’t just stripped of leaves but their bark, too. On the main Island of Tortola, Irma left 85% of buildings destroyed or severely damaged, and infrastructure was smashed.

Since Hurricane Irma, Unite BVI, Virgin Unite and Virgin Limited Edition have committed over $3.8M USD to charitable projects and initiatives across the BVI, including $1.7M USD of the BVI Community Support Appeal funds. Virgin Unite and Unite BVI continue to work hard to identify further projects that support the long-term recovery, and to allocate the remaining BVI Community Support Appeal funds in the most efficient and effective way.

In this episode we speak with Lauren Keil, Foundation Manager for Unite BVI. Lauren has worked both locally and internationally in numerous capacities leading social change and investing in people and projects for the greater good. As a Belonger, having been born in and having grown up in the BVI, and with her experience and background in social work, she is close to the heartbeat of understanding the needs in the community. She was the Executive Director of non-profit agency The Family Support Network (a domestic violence crisis support center), helped co-found a non-profit organization called ‘Hands On Volunteers’ (which worked both locally and internationally to initiate strategies for change) and has extensive international experience working in some of the world’s toughest communities in Johannesburg, Tijuana, San Francisco, Mozambique and Haiti. Lauren also co-founded an orphanage in Haiti and helped manage The Home for four years. In this episode, Lauren talks about how recovery has been going, including the human toll it has taken on the local people.

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