Andy Plesser (Huffington Post) reports news that he obtained via satellite phone by tour operator Angie Adams, who says that the situation is desperate in Vieques:
The Caribbean island of Vieques, a former home to the U.S. Navy and now a popular tourist destination seven miles east of Puerto Rico, bore the full impact of Hurricane Maria. With the main island reeling from the impact, the tiny island and its 9,000 inhabitants face daunting challenges with widespread damage, cut off from air and sea deliveries.
Off the grid: With cell and phone service down, I was contacted earlier today via satellite phone by Angie Adams, a longtime resident and a tour operator. She said that there was very little or no government help and the situation is desperate.
She and others are organizing direct shipments from the states to Vieques’ via Mosquito pier, a former Navy pier. A ship has set out from Florida, she says. The Vieques airport is partially functioning with the control tower damaged. Same for the main island regional airport of Ceiba (former Roosevelt Roads Naval base) ― also has a clear runway but not fully operational. Some private planes are taking supplies back and forth.
The island’s electrical grid is severely damaged. In normal times it has just 8 utility workers. She says it is urgent that electrical workers and communications workers come to the island. And she hopes that they can come directly to Vieques, perhaps via military transport.
Driving to survey the damage, she says that virtually all the trees on the south side of the Island, facing St. Croix, have been stripped bare. Concrete structures (mandated after the catastrophic Hurricane Hugo) have remained largely intact albeit with many shutters blown out. The older wooden structures have been mostly destroyed, she observed today.
Adams says that the storm hit the south side beach town of Esperanza with winds over 175 mph. It was heavily damaged with the access roads to the east of the town completely washed away, replaced with sand dunes. Other roads were being cleared. The ferry service, the lifeblood of the island, is not functioning, as the port of Fajardo, which supplies Vieques, has been destroyed, she understands. Adams, says that to the best of her understanding, there have been no deaths on the island.
The islanders understand that the main island is crippled, but wants the world to know that Vieques is in desperate shape. A curfew is in effect from 6:00 pm tonight until 6:00 tomorrow morning. Regarding the herds of majestic horses that roam the island, many have been killed in the storm. My wife and I have owned a home in Vieques since 2004. Built with reinforced concrete, it has withstood the storm, we were relieved to learn.
Support for the island relief and recovery has been set up by Kelly Thompson, publisher of the Vieques Insider magazine. The Go FundMe page can be found here.
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