FIRST, THE GOOD NEWS: Jennifer, Tomas and the kids are all safe!
We last had direct contact with them late in the afternoon on Tuesday, September 19th as the winds were beginning to pick up with the approaching storm.
On the preceding Sunday, the Nauti Mermaid had been made ready for the storm in the same "Hurricane Hole" where the boat had recently and successfully weathered Hurricane Irma. Once the boat was made as secure as possible, the family took refuge in a relative's home that has a poured concrete roof and no threats from either storm-surge or flash floods.
We have been unable to make direct contact with the family since the storm, but we have received confirmation via two independent sources that they were all okay.
NOW, THE BAD NEWS: Vieques is, quite literally, a disaster area!
In the very early morning hours of September 20, 2017, the eyewall of Hurricane Maria passed over the tiny island of Vieques, Puerto Rico as a Category 5 hurricane, before moving westwards to mainland Puerto Rico. Maria ravaged the 60-square mile island with sustained winds of over 150 MPH and storm surges of over 12 feet, destroying homes, local businesses and causing widespread devastation. The island lost electricity, water, and the ability to communicate with the rest of the world outside of a few Satellite phones across the island.
With the devastation in Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and now mainland Puerto Rico, Vieques, with its community of 9,000 American citizens, is left with little to no access to the disaster relief supplies and personnel that FEMA, the National Guard, the Coast Guard and other relief organizations typically provide. Cries of help are being received almost hourly from the limited satellite phone communication, all saying the same thing: “Help. We need water. We need food. We need help.” MORE INFORMATION and How to Help the Forgotten Island of Vieques!
(This post is from Matt Smith, Jennifer's dad.)