Boise man helps British Virgin Islanders after devastating hurricanes

A Boise man is helping residents in the British Virgin Islands get back on their feet after two devastating hurricanes.

BOISE - It's been nearly two months since the British Virgin Islands were devastated by not one, but two major storms in the span of two weeks: Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Since then, countless pictures and videos showing piles of rubble where homes once stood have surfaced, and stories of hope and tragedy have been told. One of those stories of hope involves a Boise man who is rolling up his sleeves to help locals rebuild.

When Hurricane Irma hit the British Virgin Islands, Chris Marshall spent three weeks thousands of miles away in Boise trying to get there. He knew from the beginning he wanted to help others, and when he finally got there he saw just how much help they needed.

"It's hard living in Idaho, looking maybe 4,000 miles away in the Caribbean wondering what can you actually do," Marshall said.

He was one of the lucky ones. His home there was one of few homes that survived the devastating storm.

As he was working on getting to the island to assess the damage, British marines and emergency medical personnel used his house as a headquarters.

"In those situations, anything you can do to give shelter to those key people is really critical," Marshall said.

It's been three weeks since Marshall touched down on British Virgin Island soil.

"Certainly when I first flew out here my first impression really I was in complete shock," he said. "Maybe half of the roads were washed away, many of the houses had no walls or no roofs."

The pictures and videos he saw didn't truly capture the devastation he was seeing with his own eyes.

"There was a 50-ton boat lifted and thrown upside down across a road," Marshall said.

In most areas, it looked like a war zone. 

"Certain areas where the houses were just barely standing, driving past people with no roofs and perhaps three walls and they're in the house trying to do some cooking, trying to survive," he explained.

"When you're there facing a person and talking to a real human being face to face it is absolutely heartbreaking," he added.

Through a new nonprofit, called Adopt a Roof, he's helping rebuild homes and hope. Adopt a Roof will bring donated building supplies like timber to the islands so they can build new roofs.

"To see that situation you can't do anything but want to help," said Marshall. "I wish I could do more."

Marshall says they have filed to be a nonprofit organization and he expects they will gain that status within the week. At that time they will be able to accept monetary donations online.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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