Kenny Chesney’s beloved home on St. John, one of the Virgin Islands devastated by Hurricane Irma in September of 2017, was destroyed by the monstrous storm. The 50-year-old country star was in Nashville when Irma made landfall in St. John, but he couldn't sit idly by while the storm ravished the island. He reached out to friends on the island, inviting them to take shelter from Irma in his home. According to People, his island home was built to withstand 200 mph winds and he hoped his friends would remain safe there.
It was devastating for Chesney to lose his home of 20 years, but the silence after the storm was much worse. Chesney wasn't able to hear from or contact the 17 friends who sheltered in his home during the storm for six long days. “That was a tough thing for me. I didn’t have a lot of communication with anyone that I cared about for several days,” he told People. “To live in that moment, not knowing if everything was okay and everybody was alive, was really hard.”
“Everybody was scared,” he shared. “There was no Internet, no cell towers, no power. I wanted to fly down the day after and take some supplies and get some people off, but we couldn’t. They had to clear the runways.”
Thankfully, all of Chesney's friends were okay. It didn't take long for Chesney to spring into action. He flew back to the island that week. “I literally wept in the helicopter,” he said of learning about and seeing the devastation for himself. “My heart broke. I knew that a lot of people that I loved and an island that I loved was really bleeding, and we had to figure out a way to stop it.”
Chesney created the Love for Love City foundation , which raised money and gathered supplies for relief efforts on St. John, as well as the rest of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. “The moment FEMA cleared us to land we were flying supplies down three to four times a week,” Chesney says.
It wasn't just the people of St. John that Chesney worked hard to help, either. In the weeks after Irma, Chesney and his assistant Jill “literally cleaned out the animal shelters” in St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke and Vieques, and Puerto Rico. They brought 1,400 cats and dogs in need back to the United States with them.
Chesney plans to donate the proceeds from his new album, Songs for the Saints to his Love for Love City Foundation. If you're interested in donating to Chesney’s relief efforts, visit kennychesney.com or loveforlovecity.org.