“I’d never seen anything so apocalyptic,” the "All the Pretty Girls" singer tells USA Today. “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.”
Chesney, who called St. John "Love City," created a charity, Love for Love City, to help residents displaced by the deadly storm.
“We did all we could to try for the people who were struggling there,” says Chesney. “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. They appreciate anything you can do because they need it so badly.”
Chesney made sure the animals displaced by Irma were also taken care of, inspired by his island friend, dubbed Low-Key Bob, who took care of Chesney's dog, Cookie, stuck on the island when the storm struck.
“He brought her to Tennessee but then a week later she passed in my assistant Jill Trunnell’s arms," shares Chesney. "So what we did after that has been kind of in Cookie’s honor."
Chesney's efforts have resulted in about 250 animals being transported off the island and into loving homes, not to mention the money Chesney has raised, and provided out of his own pocket, to continue to help the tourist destination recover.
"It’s getting better every day, thanks to a lot of people," Chesney boasts. "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, it might not have happened.”
Chesney recently announced he would hit the road next year on his Trip Around the Sun Tour, with Thomas Rhett, Old Dominion and Brandon Lay serving as his opening acts. A list of all of his scheduled shows is available on his website.