Tim Duncan knows Americans have been focused on Hurricane Harvey’s inundation of Texas, and it appears Hurricane Irma’s impact on Florida will soon follow. But he hopes people can spare a thought and perhaps some money for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The NBA legend and St. Croix native made a plea for assistance Friday night on The Players’ Tribune after Irma churned through the islands earlier this week. He has set up a fundraising site dedicated to relief for the Virgin Islands and pledged $250,000 of his own to the effort, with a promise to match up to $1 million of donations from the public.
“I know not everyone can give, and that’s OK — after all, a lot of you just got done giving financial support to the victims of Hurricane Harvey and the fires on the West Coast,” Duncan wrote. “But if you’re able, here’s what I can promise: Every dollar donated will go directly to relief efforts on the ground.
“Starting as soon as the weather permits, I’ll be chartering an airplane full of supplies from San Antonio to St. Croix, the biggest town in the Virgin Islands. And I’m already busy putting together a team — some from the Virgin Islands and some who will fly in from elsewhere — to help manage the relief effort.”
Duncan went on to share his memories of Hurricane Hugo, the Category 5 storm that hit the islands when he was 13.
“Hugo crippled the economy. People lost their businesses. Food prices went way, way up. For the next six months, parts of the island didn’t have power, and school was canceled for almost two months. We had to boil water to drink or cook. I got good at showering with a bucket. Without electricity, we had to get crafty to keep food and drinks cold. I remember tying ropes to jugs of milk or orange juice and then lowering them down into a cistern, which collects rainwater. The water was a lot cooler in there. I learned to adapt, like everyone else.”
With the Virgin Islands now potentially facing more of the same, Duncan is in a position to help and plans to do everything he can.