AFTER THE STORM
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have left fields of destruction
on their paths from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to the coast of Texas, islands in the Caribbean, especially Puerto
Rico, and Florida in the first weeks of September.
The eye of a hurricane: https://youtu.be/v6vypwhluEg
have been devastated. It will take months to rebuild Barbuda, Puerto Rico, and parts of the Virgin Islands. Sadly, residents
of many small islands in the Caribbean, like Domenica, have lost their homes, electricity, water, trees, fruitful gardens,
schools and churches, as well as hotels and restaurants getting ready for the important winter tourist season.
At this writing, volunteer agencies ask individuals eager to volunteer
not to come alone. Join a group, many of which are listed with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, VOAD,
which acts as a clearing house of current knowledge and best recovery efforts for helping specific areas. Money donations
are always welcome, as needs in each locale may differ. See: https://www.nvoad.org/ .
French, Dutch, British,
and American disaster relief personnel supplied basics to their respective islands. But the disasters demand some time just
to get your head around them. "It came out of the ocean screaming like a woman in childbirth," said a resident about
Maria in Puerto Rico.
If you plan to vacation in a few months, check out some of the hardest hit: the Florida Keys, Miami, Naples, Puerto
Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Cuba, St Martin, St Barts, Guadaloupe, Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, especially Tortola, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, and above all, Barbuda which was levelled. As a
tourist, you can help by enjoying what they offer as their best.
**** Quick updates: For the hardest hit, power and
water problems might linger, and you might hear the rumble of diesel generators here and there. Most roads are cleared, but
some beach roads are not, giving a sense of the terrible impact mostly of Maria, but also of Irma. Above all, spirits are
high. The future looks good.
Barbuda: The island had a small
but important tourism presence, and suffered devastation. For more on how rebuilding is coming along, see a daily blog
and click on the link "Visiting." Spending some time on Antigua is highly recommended first.
Its sister island Antigua is enjoying a rise in cruise traffic.
Puerto Rico is a federal disaster zone from its encounter with Hurricane Maria on September 20, but its beautiful
beaches, though changed in some cases (sand moves around), always welcome tourists. The airport is open; only some resorts
are still closed while working on reopening; but most hotels are open. You might share services with relief workers. But remember,
your tourist dollars are gold to Puerto Rico now, and greatly appreciated. For an update, see https://islandsofpuertorico.com/puerto-rico-tourism-after-hurricane-maria/
The U.S. Virgin Islands, St Croix, St Thomas, and St John are doing the best they can with restored power and water.
Debris was a big problem, as the National Park Service moved steadily west to east in its clean-up. The Malids Turtles which
once spent a lot of time in St John have moved temporarily elsewhere, but are expected back. The Emerald Beach Hotel has reopened
on St Thomas, and St Croix's famous Buccaneer Hotel is up and running. St Thomas is open for cruise ships. Best source is
a daily blog: www.newsofstjohn.com
The good news
is a $243million HUD grant to rebuild. "Everyday gets a little bit better," said a resident.
On the laid-back
British Virgin Islands, tourist life is slowly coming into focus again, as scientists map the ocean floor around the islands
and study storm wind patterns. The popular luxury tent Anegada Beach Club has reopened http://anegadabeachclub.com/