Waves for Water director and crew in the path of Cat 5 hurricane

Former World Championship Tour surfer Jon Rose, founder and executive director of Waves for Water, has been on the scene in the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami, the Haitian earthquake and Super Typhoon Haiyan. He’s worked on clean water in Nepal, Afghanistan and Haiti again after Hurricane Matthew — some of modern history's most devastating natural disasters.

And Tuesday night, Rose may have faced one of the greatest challenges of his life.

Waves for Water is the surfer-led humanitarian organization. They’ve saved countless lives by helping to distribute water filters and avoid the outbreak of waterborne diseases after massive disasters.

Jon Rose, director and founder of the non-governmental organization Waves for Water, with his father. Photo: Courtesy of wavesforwater.org

Earlier this month, Category 5 Hurricane Irma nearly wiped certain U.S. and British Virgin Islands, as well as French Caribbean islands, off the map.

Rose quickly set up an Irma relief campaign.

“We are launching a full scale relief initiative for the Caribbean Islands that were ravaged by Irma. We have personal friends who lost everything and thousands more that are in dire need of help. Clean water is at the very peak of what’s needed most and our program speaks directly to that need,” wrote Rose in an email on Sept. 11.

Rose and his crew set up staging on the island of St. Croix, using that as a jump-off point to get aid to the networks they’ve built on nearby islands. As of Monday, they were bracing for a direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Maria.

“We’ve made good progress in the last few days with our clean-water program, activating local networks in both St. Thomas and St. John. Now we find ourselves on the doorstep of disaster yet again. Hurricane Maria, now a Cat 3, is set to hit us, head on, here at our current staging area on St. Croix, tomorrow afternoon/evening. We are first responders by trade and now we will actually find ourselves at ground zero when the disaster hits,” reported Rose Monday, according to Waves for Water. The storm had intensified to a Cat 5 on Tuesday.

Storms are ranked in intensity by their top sustained winds on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, from 1 to 5. A storm with winds over 129 mph is considered a Category 3 “major” hurricane.

The 2017 hurricane season was forecasted to be near average, but it has proven to be anything but.

The last several weeks have seen major destruction in Texas from Hurricane Harvey as a Cat 4. Irma, which was the strongest storm ever recorded in the open Atlantic Ocean, destroyed multiple islands and caused massive destruction in Florida and Georgia. Hurricane Jose grew to Cat 3 status and fortunately has stayed in the ocean, delivering swell all over the western Atlantic.

Hurricane Maria has made this one of the most powerful seasons ever, already destroying several islands, and Tropical Storm Lee formed last weekend.

Caribbean islands that are in terrible shape will now have to deal with Hurricane Maria. Photo: Courtesy of wavesforwater.org

It’s been anything but average and it’s still mid-September, with rapid intensification the likes of which the Atlantic has never seen.

“I would say, ‘Wow, what a crazy coincidence,’ but I know we are exactly where we are supposed to be, as usual,” continued Rose. “The crew and I are taking our precautionary measure today, then hunkering down, and as soon as the dust settles we will have our work cut out for us. Wish us luck. We’ll update if and when we have good comms.”

He and his crew face a very serious situation.

Hurricane Maria, a dangerous Cat 5 storm, moving into the Caribbean. Photo: Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center

“Destiny is a funny thing,” wrote Rose. “Waves For Water was born from a disaster. I was caught in an earthquake in Sumatra in 2009, that changed my life forever. Now [the nonprofit] is a globally recognized NGO, with long term development and disaster relief programs in over 30 countries.”

You can support the Hurricane Irma Relief Initiative or set up your own fundraiser.

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