On September 6, 2017, Puerto Rico waited in anticipation for one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic and the island’s history: Category 5 Hurricane Irma. We were lucky enough to have the center of the storm pass further away than initially projected. Thankfully, causing less damage than expected. Hurricane Irma’s wrath hit Puerto Rico’s offshore Island municipalities Vieques and Culebra the hardest. After the Hurricane, around 1,000,000 people were left without electricity and 30,000 without water. Sadly, the storm ripped through Antigua and Barbuda, St. Marteen and St. Barthélemy, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, and Cuba, just to name a few.
If you are planning to visit Puerto Rico in the upcoming weeks this is what you need to know:
We are open for business. As of September 12, 2017, 75% of the Island has electricity. Most hotels, bars and restaurants have backup generators, so you do not have to worry. The damage caused by Irma, mainly toppled trees and power lines are being taken care of and the government is working hard to fix the areas that have been heavily damaged. Airports and ports are up-and-running and were not affected. As Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Roselló stated in a recent interview with CNBC’s Power Lunch, “the Tourism infrastructure is very robust over here. We’re lucky that it was well designed, both the ports and the airports. The hotels are working at full capacity.”
We are helping our neighboring Islands. Being spared the worst of Irma, Puerto Ricans have focused their energy on donating water, clothing, food and supplies to those affected in our neighboring islands. In the past few days, government led missions have evacuated thousands of people from Barbuda (95% of the buildings were destroyed), St. Thomas, and St Marteen and brought them here to local hotels and hospitals.
How can you help? There are many makeshift collection centers (centros de acopio) all around the Island where you can donate water, clothing, food and supplies. Airbnb is seeking homeowners who can offer listings free of charge for Hurricane Irma evacuees as part of the Company’s Disaster Response Program. Also, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army are calling for volunteers to help with relief efforts.