Kenny Chesney: “There’s No Blueprint”

On Rebuilding Islands and Rescuing Pets Left Behind

After Hurricane Irma hit Kenny Chesney’s home away from home — St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands — he got to work right away helping rebuild for the locals who were struggling with how to get things done.

“We did all we could to try for the people who were struggling there. We flew generators and coolers down there. You bring them to these people who have been without power for two months and they’re literally crying,” Chesney told USA Today. “I’d never seen anything so apocalyptic. An area called Coral Bay was hit especially hard. My home was gone — and it had been built really strong.

“I’d lived there for so long so to see it broken and bleeding, especially a place that was known for its beauty and charm, it was devastating. It had become a ghost of an island.”

After helping the residents, Chesney and his assistant turned their attention to the homeless animals wandering around post-Irma. Chesney knew they could use his help, too. So his Love For Love City foundation mobilized boats, ferries and trucks to bring an estimated 250 animals to Florida and then on to North Carolina, Virginia, Maine, Massachusetts and Missouri for adoption.

And back on the island, Chesney says, the future is starting to look more hopeful.

“I’ll tell you, it’s getting better every day, thanks to a lot of people. First time I flew there after the hurricane, every tree was broken. It looked like it had been bombed. Then a couple of weeks ago I went back and noticed a little bit of greenery. It takes a while. There’s no blueprint for something like this. But I’m really proud to be a part of helping the animals. Without Cookie,” he said of his late mixed-breed dog who inspired his rescue efforts, “it might not have happened.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.