Puerto Rico

Power & Motor Yacht - - SPECIAL REPORT -

What does dis­as­ter look like? For Puerto Rico, which had just been struck by Hur­ri­cane Irma, it ap­peared as a Cat­e­gory 4 storm. On Septem­ber 20, Hur­ri­cane Maria quickly earned her name, knock­ing out power for nearly all of the 3.4 mil­lion res­i­dents and plung­ing the U.S. com­mon­wealth into a hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis, the likes of which has not been seen in gen­er­a­tions. The last time the is­land had been hit di­rectly by a hur­ri­cane was 1932.

Com­pared to their Caribbean neigh­bors, Puerto Rico had been spared a glanc­ing blow by this year’s pre­vi­ous hur­ri­canes, and its boating com­mu­nity in par­tic­u­lar had mo­bi­lized to help by evac­u­at­ing dis­placed is­landers and trans­port­ing much­needed first aid and other sup­plies. But what had once been a rel­a­tively dis­as­ter­free zone was sud­denly in dire need of aid.

The open­ing of the is­land’s main port in San Juan has al­lowed the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (FEMA) and other re­lief teams to ferry in much needed sup­plies. In the past months, U.S. air­planes and ships loaded with food, wa­ter, and gen­er­a­tors have been steam­ing to­ward Puerto Rico and other af­fected Caribbean is­lands, the ef­forts amount­ing to bil­lions of dol­lars in fed­eral as­sis­tance. But there is still much work to do.

Some of the res­i­dents of the is­land have lost ev­ery­thing. Maria, which lashed Puerto Rico with Har­vey-like rain­fall and Irma-like winds, has ex­ac­er­bated an al­ready crip­pled in­fra­struc­ture. In the com­ing months, dis­tribut­ing re­sources to the far cor­ners of the is­land will be the big­gest chal­lenge. But in the face of such a costly tragedy, Puerto Rico re­mains re­silient.

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