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Former Nashville family says St. John residents desperate after Irma, pleads for help

(WZTV)

A former Nashville family is pleading for help for St. John residents who have been devastated by Hurricane Irma.

The Gonzales family says victims of the smallest U.S. Virgin Islands are running out of food and clean drinking water as they are bracing for another storm this weekend. The family is asking anyone who can help to do so.

“I called everyone flying out begging them to let me buy a flight to any city in the U.S.," Gonzales said. "I didn't care where I was going. I just want to get out. Everyone was sold out."

Brittany Gonzales and their two-month-old baby, RJ, evacuated to Nashville due to Hurricane Irma, which hit the island at a Category 5 storm on Wednesday. Both mother and baby fled on a private jet to Ft. Lauderdale, then hopped on a plane to Nashville. He husband Robert stayed behind.

“Literally before this interview he texted me and said I’m riding out the storm and Dave’s hotel. I got in and I’ve got 20 other people with me," Gonzales said. "They're all there all hunkered down in a hotel."

Robert Gonzales worked in Nashville as a lawyer for 20 years, and Brittany worked at a Nashville nonprofit for five years before settling at St. John.

Robert worked at the MG Law with Bob Mendes, who is now a city council member. The family now rents vacation homes in St. John.

Brittany spoke with Fox 17 News This Morning and said their homes are no longer safe to stay in as all the roofs have been ripped off.

“We are Americans and we need help,” Brittany said in an emotional phone interview. “Everything is destroyed, our lives are forever changed.”

Brittany said islanders are in a Facebook group where they can check is as safe. The family has at least 10 close friends who they haven’t heard from. The family also has friends with young children and babies who desperately need to flee the island.

“I've got two friends that had babies the same week as RJ,” Gonzales said. “They're there right now with babies two months old and no water, no electricity. I don't know how they're surviving.”

There’s no power on the island – and won’t be for months. They get power from island of St. Thomas. There’s also little cell phone service and people are trying to conserve as much cell phone power that they can.

Right now, there’s no way to get off the island. Robert is staying to help friends and neighbors. Brittany said she still fears for the life of her husband and the island braces for another storm.

"This is the United States Virgin Islands," Gonzalez said. "None of the news outlets are talking about us. They're talking about the other islands around us, but they're not talking about us and we pay federal taxes. We need help now, and we need the government to step up and come and help us."

CLICK HERE to donate to the St. Thomas Rescue’s GoFundMe page.

Country music star Kenny Chesney, who owns a home on St. John, is trying to help islanders through his “Love for Love City” campaign.


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