When Hurricane Maria hit Vieques Puerto Rico on September 20th, the cat. 5 storm not only destroyed most of the island, including my sister’s home and belongings, but it destroyed their livelihood and means of income. They’re now left homeless and face extraordinary debt from the loss of their business.
Despite the circumstances, Jenny Smith and Tomas Fuentes Osorio, want to remain on the island and help with the recovery efforts to bring Vieques back to it’s former beauty.
Please help them get their home and business back.
The Dream: Live-Aboard Charter Business in Vieques
For several years, Jenny & Tomas worked tirelessly towards actualizing their dream of starting their own charter business on the island of Vieques. They bought a catamaran sailboat they named the Nauti Mermaid which they planned to live aboard with their two kids Milan (3 yrs old) & Taleia (1 yr old). After only being on the island for 2 short months their home and dreams were all shattered before their eyes overnight.
With two cat 5 Hurricanes back-to-back, Jenny and Tomas had no other options but anchor the boat in a hurricane hole, and ride out the storms in Tomas’s aunts house. While they all survived the storms, their boat and home were completely destroyed along with most of their belongings. Their insurance will only cover 60-70% of their losses – not enough to recover their boat (home) or pay off their financial obligation from their start-up business. They are currently staying at Tomas's Aunt's house. Like many isolated areas of Puerto Rico, they still do not have consistent running water, hot water for showers, AC, power, and must wait in long gas lines (7+ hours) – in order to obtain the gas needed to keep generators running. Communication is still down on the majority of the island – cellular service & internet is still only intermittently available and only from a handful of spots.
Making Ends Meet in a Devastated and Remote Location
Tomas was born & raised in Vieques and it was my sister’s dream to become a part of this island’s community. Witnessing all the destruction that has occurred, the two of them have become dedicated to the rebuilding efforts. Tomas’s background is in construction and he’s overall a jack-of-all-trades, which makes him uniquely fit for the overwhelming needs of the community. However, jobs and money are scarce in this remote area. It's mostly a cash-only society and the bank lines have been monstrous with ATMs only working intermittently.
Let’s help them, with whatever you can give.
It is heartbreaking to see the devastation that has occurred to this community and worrisome that this island is almost completely dependent on tourism for their local economy. Until the island is rebuilt, that income will be out-of-reach for many including my sister and her family.
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