Catherine Kling: Overcoming problems in paradise
"She was the first person to contact the staff every day to ensure we were OK, that we ate and that our families were safe and OK. She has been a friend, big sister and mother figure as we recover. Her passion for the team to ensure our success and well-being is above what is needed."
Raymond E. Green, St. Thomas store manager
The domino effect
The St. Thomas store is directly across from one of the island's main ports, where large cruise ships dock on a regular basis – but now, not as often.
About 5 or 6 cruise ships used to stop daily at St. Thomas ports. "Now we barely get 1. So this is a huge decrease. The island survives on tourism," Catherine said.
It’s still paradise
Construction on the Virgin Islands is challenging. Materials and equipment are shipped by boat or barge. Most contractors come from Puerto Rico, which also is recovering from Hurricane Maria.
Blue roofs still dot the islands because residents can't get a contractor – or can't afford one, Catherine said.
Repairs, deep-cleaning and painting of the St. Croix and St. Thomas stores were complete in March.
Meanwhile, the lush landscape is recovering on its own.
"Right here at the St. Thomas store, I'm able to see the sea – about 10 feet away from the store's entrance. It's beautiful, warm, blue water. I am confident it is just going to get better as time progresses. It's still a beautiful place – that's for sure. It's still paradise."