You Survived the Hurricane; Now What? iPhone Life’s Guide to Post-Hurricane Disaster Relief.

I grew up in one of the most beautiful places on the entire planet. No kidding. People would come from all over the world to visit our exquisite crystal blue waters and our lush tropical islands. Now however, everything has changed. In a matter of hours the Virgin Islands (the British Virgin Islands in particular) were decimated by the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. Now the people in the islands are dealing with the devastation and many residents have gone from living an idealistic island life to living like refugees.

On the island of Tortola, BVI, where I’m from and where much of my family still dwell, it’s estimated that 90–95 percent of the island’s infrastructure and services have been totaled. Chances are if you have a television or are plugged in to social media you’ve seen glimpses of the widespread devastation throughout the Leeward Islands of northern Caribbean, wrought by the two powerful category 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria. From the United States territory of Puerto Rico (my birthplace), westward through the BVI, USVI ,and southward to Dominica, life has changed dramatically and not for the better.

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Over the past weeks, many people I know have reached out to ask me what they can do to help. And now, after the shock of the devastation has somewhat worn off, I’ve rounded up some great products that can help victims of natural disasters, plus at the end of this article you’ll also find a short list of reputable charities if you have been looking for a way to donate to the recovery process.

Post-Disaster Survival Essentials

After a hurricane, or other natural disaster, such as the earthquakes that have devastated parts of Mexico, solar is one of the best, most reliable, free sources of energy you can have on hand. In an emergency, especially when power goes out, having access to your smartphone isn’t just a matter of convenience, it can literally make the difference between life and death. But without a power source your iPhone is only good as long as its charge lasts. Many of my family members have been struggling to find out about rescue services, aid distribution points or impending storms, simply because their iPhones' batteries only last so long. Thanks to today’s technology, you can get a great solar panel, or charging kit, in a small, portable size, which is essential if you have to bug out and can only carry a few personal items with you in the event of an emergency. The following are some of my favorites:

EcoXGear Sol Jam ($149.99)

This rugged, compact, waterproof Bluetooth speaker not only allows you to play music, or listen to emergency news and weather reports, it also comes with a high performance solar panel embedded on its topside. The solar panel effectively charges the speaker’s internal battery, which can, in turn, be used to recharge your smartphone. The Sol Jam pumps out remarkable audio, especially for a speaker of this size and as a side benefit, it also floats, making it ideal for boaters and islanders in general.

Xtorm Evoke AM121 ($116.36)

High efficiency solar panels allow the Xtorm Evoke to rapidly charge from the sun and in turn, deliver reliable power to your iPhone and iPad. It’s water-resistant and has a hefty 10,000mAh internal battery. With the Xtorm Evoke you can even charge two devices at the same time for added convenience. Worth noting; although the Xtorm Evoke ships from Europe, shipping is free and their delivery times are fast.

GoalZero Solar Charging Kits ($169.95–$549.93)

GoalZero offer exceptional quality solar kits. In particular, for the purpose of natural disaster victim donations, I’d recommend either the Venture 30 ($169.95) or the Sherpa 100 ($549.93). Their main differences have to do with power output and battery capacity. The Venture 30 is slightly smaller with a 7-watt solar panel and a 7800mAh (at 3.6 volts) Li-Ion battery and weighs only 1.56 pounds, while the Sherpa 100 has more a powerful 20-watt solar panel and a beefy 8800mAh, 11 volt battery and weighs in at 4.4 pounds. The Venture 30 is ideal for smartphones and tablets, while the Sherpa 50 has enough power to charge laptops and tablets simultaneously via two, ultra-fast smart-charging USB ports.

BioLite CampStove 2 Energy Bundle+ ($319.95)

The CampStove 2 Energy Bundle is a great survivalist’s kit. The smokeless CampStove itself allows you to burn wood and the energy from the fire is conveniently converted into energy to charge you iPhone. The CampStove by itself is an excellent donation item. Even better is the CampStove Energy Bundle+, as it also includes a 5-watt solar panel and the PowerLight Bundle which delivers bright illumination and also has a built-in, internal battery to store a charge. The CampStove Energy Bundle+ also comes with a portable grill that attaches the CampStove and the KettlePot, which isn’t just for coffee or tea, but also for the essential post-disaster task of purifying water by boiling it.

AquaQuest Dry Bags for Tech Accessories ($17.47–$31.47)

I can’t tell you how many people I know down in the islands that had to literally run for their lives during either Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria, at the risk of life and limb, after their roofs were ripped of and their walls blown down. Having a waterproof bag packed and at the ready, with your most important documents, cash, and iPhone and/or iPad is essential in my expereinced opinion. An AquaQuest waterproof bag is an excellent choice, as it will keep your irreplaceables as safe as can be. AquaQuest make a variety of great waterproof bags, with options for iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, as well as larger sizes for carrying more essentials, when the next inevitable gargantuan storm looms on the horizon.

If you are not an islander it may well be difficult to fathom the resolve it takes to rebuild your homeland from the ruble of a Category 5 hurricane, especially when you know that next hurricane season you can expect the same potential for more devastation. But such is life in the tropical island paradise of the Northern Caribbean. Life goes on, whether you own and operate a business, live on a sailboat or have simply lived and worked there all of your life. If you decide that you would like to donate supplies to the hardest hit islands, you can send these items to:

BVI AID

6703 NW 7th St.

EIS284

Miami, FL

33126

Phone: 305-592-5534

eMail: help@tortolaexpress.com

Or if you’d rather, you can donate money to help the islands recover from the one-two punch of Hurricanes Irma and Maria via the links below. Donations are tax deductible, so be sure to keep track of your expenses.

British Virgin Islands:

Richard Branson Hurricane Fund  No fees, all monies go to helping those in the BVI.

BVI Recovery Fund British Virgin Islands Government.

VISAR Organized by Tania Paine.
Convoy of Hope (Irma BVI) Recommended by Nancy Richardson, Tortola.

Virgin Gorda:
Virgin Gorda Relief Supply Fund Organizer: Casey McNutt.

Puerto Rico:
United For Puerto Rico Providing a way for anyone to help hurrican victims in Puerto Rico.

St. John, USVI:
The St. John Foundation Recommended by Russ Ballou.
Love for Love City Organizer: Kenny Chesney.

St. Thomas, USVI:
US Virgin Island Relief Fund  Organized by NBA star, Tim Duncan who grew up on St. Croix and who is matching funds up to 1,000,000.
Adopt a Family, USVI Send a care package to hurricane victims.

Anguilla:
Help Anguilla Recommended by Nori Evoy, Anguilla Beaches.

Barbuda:
The Coco Point Fund: Barbuda’s Recovery from Irma  Recommended by Barbudaful.

 

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Dig Om's picture

As Senior Gear Editor at iPhone Life, Dig reports on the latest and greatest accessories built for the iOS ecosystem. From rugged gear and Bluetooth speakers, to headphones, unique iDevice cases, and iOS remote controlled vehicles, Dig's articles cover a wide range of great gear for the iPhone and iPad. A core gamer for over three decades, Dig also writes iPhone Life's Game Centered column, which focuses on the best iOS games and game related news. Additionally, Dig's company, iDoc Tech Support, offers web design and administration services as well as iPhone and iPad repairs. When not at his work desk, Dig loves spending time with family and enjoying the wonders of nature. You can follow him on Twitter @idoctech