Tuesday Hurricane Maria crossed through already devastated areas of the Caribbean as a category 5 storm then hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday at 6:15am  as a Category 4 storm. With strong winds and powerful storm surges, within hours, the island was completely powerless. At about 3pm EST the island’s electric infrastructure completely failed leaving the entire island without power and phone service.

Due to the extreme damage on the island, life may be very different. Hurricane Maria left massive destruction. 3.5  million people must now find a new way to live without electricity. Most of the water systems have also failed. And, for many, their homes have been completely destroyed.

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Photo of the mass destruction to power lines in Humacao, Puerto Rico. (Photo: Carlos Giusti for AP)

But, the extent of the damage is still unknown as so many remain isolated and without communication.

Surfing in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has a deeply embedded surf culture. It has come to be known as the surf capital of the Caribbean. Isabela, Aguadilla and Rincon on the west coast offer a variety of different waves that cater to all levels ands styles of surfing. There are also several popular breaks along the North coast. Because of this, the island has hosted many international surfing competitions throughout the years.

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Tres Palmas, Puerto Rico

Due to the great surf, a large portion of the island’s income comes from surf tourism. But, this may no longer be the case. Maria’s powerful winds carved holes in the walls of 300-year-old homes, flooded neighborhoods, sucked roofs off buildings, downed 100-year-old trees and left the entire island without power or any quick means to reconnect with the world. Already, we have heard stories of looters taking advantage of the chaos following the storm. One large, local surf shop was broken into with thieves entirely cleaning out its contents.

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With little to no way to communicate, so many wait patiently to hear from family and friends across the Island. Our hearts continue to be with everyone.

How You Can Help

We are so proud of how our IWS family has continued to come through for those affected in Texas by Harvey and then in the Caribbean and Keys by Irma. Now we look at Puerto Rico, with broken hearts, and wonder how we, together, can lend a hand.

Island Water Sports is still taking donations. Items needed includes the following:

  • Baby Items (Baby Food, Diapers, Bottles, Formula, Wipes)
  • Non-Perishable Food
  • Toiletries
  • Cleaning Supplies (Especially bleach & Vinegar)
  • Pet Food
  • Water
  • Generators (Puerto Rico)

We are also beginning to take volunteers down to Big Pine Key to serve in partnership with Performance Nissan of Pompano Beach. From helping to hand our and organize donations, to using a chain saw…. a variety of skills are needed. Sign up by emailing Toni@islandwatersports.com or fill out our volunteer form here.

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Want to get involved to help Puerto Rico? Many of your local donations have been going down to Miami to be put in airplanes for the relief effort in Puerto Rico in partnership with Baer’s Furniture of Pompano Beach. Here are some of the other organizations that are providing urgent aid and on-ground services in Puerto Rico:

Financial donations can help these organization acquire food,  provide physical shelter, and cover a wide range of basic necessities to help those who were affected by Hurricane Maria.

Keep a close eye on Island Water Sports Instagram to see how you can serve. We will keep you updated as we receive more information.

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I met Damien just now. He has cell service and wants people to be able reach their families. Good people in Puerto Rico helping each other from the kindness of their hearts!!! A post shared by Adolfo Ibarra (@adolfoandhiscamera) on Sep 21, 2017 at 12:55pm PDT

Share your thoughts and prayers with our friends in Puerto Rico in the comments below.