Anguilla heritage assessment project
Hurricane Irma, a category 5 hurricane made landfall on islands in the eastern Caribbean on September 6, 2017. The storm devastated the island of Anguilla, causing widespread damage to buildings and utilities infrastructure. Among those buildings damaged or destroyed were some of the oldest structures on the island including churches and those associated with the island’s historic salt industry. Erosion of coastal pre-Columbian archaeological sites is also expected to have occurred.
In the immediate aftermath of the storm the main focus of the government, utilities and aid organizations was- necessarily and appropriately- on humanitarian issues and service restoration in advance of the economically critical tourism season. Yet, there was also an urgent need but limited capacity to support an assessment of the hurricane’s impact on cultural heritage including architecture, archaeological sites and archaeological and historical collections. The timing of the assessment was critical to enable documentation and recommendations prior to major reconstruction.
Towards this end, Pennywise endorsed the Anguilla Heritage Assessment Project. This project will link an evaluation of damage to cultural resources in Anguilla to broader reconstruction efforts. The project will document storm-related impacts to cultural resources on Anguilla, contribute to broader research that addresses the effects of climate change on cultural heritage, assist government and non-governmental organizations in measuring the impacts of the 2017 storms and enhance teaching of heritage management and sustainability. The project will also identify and generate potential for sustainable cultural preservation efforts and support local heritage management.
The project will be led by Dr. John Crock of the University of Vermont and will include the Government of Anguilla, the Anguilla Archaeological and Historical Society, and the Pennywise Foundation. Together, project partners will work to identify potential for cultural preservation efforts to support humanitarian relief efforts through job creation, clean-up and rebuilding initiatives.