The Atlantic Ocean has been in overdrive the past several weeks. And while it's been delivering a nonstop swell train to the entire East Coast, it has also unfortunately been battering the Caribbean.
Following Harvey saturating Texas and Irma charging through the Caribbean and Florida, Hurricane Maria is the latest in a string of storms that has brought untold suffering, taking a direct path across Dominica on Tuesday and then Puerto Rico on Wednesday.
Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory popular with tourists and a regular destination for East Coast surfers, took on Hurricane Maria as a Category 4 major hurricane with winds up to 155 mph. The island was hammered by a triple threat of massive storm surge, deadly winds and up to 3 feet of rain. It has been widely reported that all of Puerto Rico is without electricity, as the grid had been compromised last week by Irma.
Many people cannot reach their families there, as communication has largely been knocked out.
Members of the U.S. Navy, who were in St. Thomas supporting FEMA after Irma, had to be evacuated before Hurricane Maria came through.
GrindTV reported on Wednesday that Jon Rose, founder and director of nonprofit organization Waves for Water, was in St. Croix, staging Irma relief effort for surrounding U.S., French and British islands, when Hurricane Maria slashed into the island.
On Wednesday, Rose reported via Waves for Water's Instagram:
“We lost comms for a while but seems like a bit of cell service is back online. We are all ok… both our rooms were compromised – ceilings started falling in on us, followed by flooding. We are now assessing what of our personal property has been damaged, and moving to another room with less damage so we can regroup. Some looting going on in our neighborhood now too. S–t is really damaged and f—–d up around here. Not sure about roads yet. Curfew is still in order. We are going to quickly get ourselves in order and try to establish good base of operations again, then we will start assessing damage elsewhere. Just know that we are all safe and in a secure location. Thank you for all the positives notes, they helped. We got really lucky, only saw max winds at about 135-140mph. Apparently, nearby, the southwestern tip of the island saw the worst of it with 160-plus mph winds.”
Time to assess… Soon Maria will finally clear from Puerto Rico, allowing our team, @mcqueen_rob and @ottoint, stationed in San Juan since Monday, to take a look at the damage she left behind. Restricted by a curfew of 6am – 6pm and limited communications we are working hard to support our PR crew during this unprecedented event | If you have the means to support this initiative, please donate through the link in our bio If not, help W4W spread the word | #wavesforwater #w4wchri
In Puerto Rico, Waves for Water had Rob McQueen and Patagonia surf ambassador Otto Flores starting to take in the widespread damage. Flores had been knee deep in getting water filters to victims in the U.S. Virgin Islands when he returned to Puerto Rico and rode out Hurricane Maria.
“Assessing the damage to my beautiful Island. Friends and family will always be a priority but it goes without saying that it breaks my heart to see what is happened to our community. So many of our lives changed in just one day. Waves for Water will be supporting with more efforts now in our own back yard,” reported Flores via his own Instagram account.
A tropical expert, Dr. Philip Klotzbach of the University of Colorado, pointed out that the Atlantic Ocean has had an active storm churning for the last 28 days straight.
Hurricane Maria is now north of the Bahaman Islands, on a mostly northerly path, and is still a major hurricane. It is expected to weaken as it moves north, over cooler water, but will remain a formidable storm as it approaches the mid-latitudes.
Although meteorologists warn that an East Coast threat is not out of the question, an area of low pressure moving across the country will most likely move Hurricane Maria away from a mid-Atlantic or New England landfall.
These affected islands tend to be close to the hearts of surfers and travelers. To support the effort, check out Waves for Water’s Caribbean Relief Initiative.
The 2017 season has already been a wild one, and with trade winds predicted to be light into October, the tropics may not be done yet.
More coverage of the hurricane activity from GrindTV