Marty Goldberg has run a grocery store on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Thomas since 1975, and he called Hurricane Irma the absolute worst storm he’s ever seen.
“It looks [like] Vietnam, after being napalmed. It’s a horrendous sight, and everybody has some kind of damage,” Goldberg said by phone from his grocery store, The Fruit Bowl. “If they’re lucky, it was just water damage. But there are many people who lost their roof, many people who lost their entire house, and there are other people who lost every single thing and the only thing they have today is the clothing on their back”.
Goldberg is a state resident who lives between Connecticut and the islands.
“Looking around, driving around, you see the shock in people’s faces,” he said. “We call it storm shock. It's like shell shock.”
Now, the challenge turns to recovery. Goldberg hopes that people outside of the islands will continue to pay attention, but he’s not optimistic.
“Hurricanes make big news when they pass over an area,” he said. “But after that, they’re out of the public eye, except for the people living in the aftermath of that storm.”
That said, he sees some reason for optimism. When asked about the process of rebuilding and how people will move forward, Goldberg said that each resident will have to deal with a different kind of problem.
“For most people it’s their residence and they need to either put on a new roof if that’s all they lost, or build a new home,” he said. “At some point, it might be a year, but at some point, things will get better. Seeing the federal aid that’s come in, the National Guard and FEMA, etc that’s giving people a lot of hope.”