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Opinion: Do not forget hurricane victims in Virgin Islands

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel editorial

Texans, Floridians and Georgians hurt by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are on the minds of millions of their neighbors throughout the United States. But what about our other fellow Americans in the U.S. Virgin Islands?

If anything, devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma in the USVI is worse than what is being reported from Florida. Like several other Caribbean islands, the USVI were hit full-force by the historic storm. British, French and Dutch aid is now headed to the islands still governed by those countries, as each has announced its plans for helping their own citizens recover.

The full extent of damage in the islands is just now coming to light. Many USVI residents lost everything. Critical communications, travel and health care infrastructure has been destroyed or damaged badly.

Because the USVI is an American territory, its citizens also are U.S. citizens. Many of them reportedly feel abandoned by what they consider the mother country.

West Virginia native Homer Hickam, author of the “Rocket Boys” book that became the movie “October Sky,” is well acquainted with the USVI. He owns a home there, and happened to be there on Sept. 11, 2001 — an infamous date Americans commemorated this week.

On the day the terrorists attacked, “the entire island erupted in a sea of red, white and blue. Flags were everywhere,” Hickam has said.

So yes, these are our fellow Americans. Let us not forget them, either.

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