The Saints of St. John

92 REAL-LEADERS.COM / FALL 2018 A YEAR AFTER THE HURRICANES THE SAINTS OF ST. JOHN HOW TO LEAD IN THE FACE OF DISASTER owmany people can say they’ve lived through two category 5+ hurricanes within two weeks? Would you know what to do if you suddenly lost your electricity, Internet, TV, cell phone coverage, landline, ATMs and roads? And your home got destroyed too. Additionally, what if you had no idea howmany months this would last, or if anyone was coming to help. The fear of realizing that you could quickly run out of water, food and cash is hard for anyone to imagine, let alone face. The people who endured this horrific disaster, have stories that teach us about being a leader, rather than a victim. There were also people thousands of miles away, in safety, who put aside their busy lives to take action and help those suffering in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, also known as “Irmaria.” The following five short stories focus on the experiences of five exceptional people and demonstrates the leadership that arose in the face of chaos; people who chose to step forward and do what they could to help others in need. These firsthand accounts reveal selfless acts of kindness and leadership that can serve as an inspiration to others – what to do when disaster strikes. They help override the default mindset of, “there’s nothing I can do to help.” In full transparency, this story holds a special place in my heart. I live part-time on the beautiful island of St. John and many of my friends and neighbors were on the island when the two hurricanes hit, causing massive destruction. My own home, in fact, became a source of refuge for a group of people (friends, neighbors and even a visiting actress) who needed immediate shelter. It was an honor to provide this small support for a fewmonths, and it made me more aware of the power of mother nature and the fragility of humans facing climate change. I wish I could capture the thousands of other stories that exist from these hurricanes, which also tore through the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas. I’d like to invite you to share your inspiring story of leadership that you may have witnessed firsthand or heard about from others - in the face of hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, fires, floods and more. Visit and tell us your story in the comments section of the online version of this article. By Julie Van Ness