Hello everyone, and happy Friday! I have an incredible story to share with you all today.
Andy Peter has lived here on St. John since 2013. He moved to the island straight from Iraq where he worked as a private contractor with the State Department. He was a paramedic for years, but opted for a different career once he moved to the island. For those of you who’ve been visiting us for quite some time, you may recognize him from his early days when he bartended over at The Beach Bar.
Enter September 6th, 2017 – the day Hurricane Irma ravaged the island.
The storm hit us on a Wednesday. For the first couple of days, no relief workers arrived on island. We saw helicopters swirling above, but it wasn’t until Sunday, to my recollection, that the relief workers actually arrived on the ground.
I remember walking in Cruz Bay right near Connections when I first saw a couple of men with D.I.R.T emblazoned across their backs. The Dirt team, as we came to know them, was part of Help.NGO, an international team that specializes in emergency response among other things. They became a crucial part of our early relief efforts, helping with search and rescue, and telecommunications. They were the reason, according to Andy, why we were able to get those all important text messages out during the early days post-storm.
Recognizing the importance of this team coupled with his background, Andy decided to join Dirt. He worked with them on St. John for the next year-and-a-half.
Since then, Help.NGO has called on Andy to assist with efforts in other countries that need needed help. He’s gone to Ethiopia, Madagascar, Bolivia, Mozambique, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala and Colombia over the years. He deployed to the Bahamas in 2019 to help with the Hurricane Dorian relief efforts.
Andy received a pretty casual text message last week asking him what he’s up to. He’s a pretty busy guy being an owner of both The Windmill Bar and The Upstairs in Cruz Bay. However, Help.NGO needed his assistance in Turkey, and Andy immediately said yes.
Andy started his 30-hour journey this past Wednesday and has since arrived safely in Adana, Turkey. He is currently assisting with high-resolution drone mapping, which will be used in the earthquake search and recovery operations. Andy plans to return to St. John in early March.
I met Andy at The Upstairs earlier this week to chat about his upcoming trip. A few hours later, he sent me this text:
“Been thinking about our talk,” Andy wrote. “I’m not lost on the fact of the places I’ve gone and the things I’ve done. It comes down to a very simple thing for me. It’s just what I do. This stuff is normal. It’s not for many, and it shouldn’t be. But it is for me.”
I’m not sure how to end this post other than to say thank you. And kudos to you Andy for being a good human being who thrives off of helping others. We appreciate you.