Vieques, PR - September 2017 - Chapter 1 - Into the eye of a storm

Late last week, I arrived home from house sitting in Naples Florida to prepare for the next leg of my summer, southerly migration. As I awoke, the morning was calm and illuminated with clear blue skies; but I knew that was only here, not my destination of Puerto Rico.

For the past few days, the local news channels had been mentioning a tropical system that had developed off the African coast and further development was expected. Within about 30 hours the system had grown from a tropical storm, to a major, category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 115mph, and it had since become known as Hurricane Irma. While it’s still too early to determine an accurate track, Puerto Rico is within the cone which is the ‘most probable path’ of the storm.

Having grown up in Florida and experienced hurricanes, I realize the most probable path is large while a storm is at sea. However, if you’re location is close to the middle of the cone, get prepared. Even though you may not get a direct hit, you’ll probably be getting plenty of wind and rain.

Checking on the weather and communicating with Lisa (homeowner in PR), I decided to try changing my flights to arrive on Monday versus Tuesday. Change fees were waived on my flight for Tampa to San Juan, and my connecting flight had a minimal change fee, so I changed my arrival to Monday.
Now some of you may think, going to a place where a major hurricane ‘may’ hit within a couple days of your arrival is crazy. For me, to this particular house, it’s not a challenge. I know the property is not prone to flooding, the house is solid, and the homeowners have everything in place to be safe.

Those white lines in the water (between the prop blades) are boats going to safe shelter from Hurricane Irma
When I arrived Monday, hurricane Irma was a strong category 2, but now, only 24 hours later, it’s a category 5. I’m still comfortable with my decision to continue my commitment to house sit and equally as comfortable to the housing, food, and preparedness. However, knowing how outlying areas, like Vieques, are often overlooked in the aftermath of disasters, my concern is the response time of the local government.

Do I expect power outages, downed trees and low-land flooding, yes. Am I concerned for the safety of locals and other house sitters currently on the island, yes. But I feel the island as a whole is as ready as anybody can get. As for me and at least two other house sitters, we’ve got solid dwellings, food, water, gas for the generator and stove, and of course I’ve got a hammock for relaxation during the cleanup.

It’s Tuesday, the preparations are complete, homeowners have departed, sun has set, winds have increased, and Puerto Rico is under a ‘hurricane warming’. For now, it’s simply time to rest as much as possible, monitor the weather conditions, and wait out the arrive and eventual departure of hurricane Irma.

Hurricane force winds are forecast to start tonight.  Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Until next time; travel safe


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