Each year in September the Caribbean islands are preparing for a very special meteorological event that might seem terrifying to the rest of the world, but has become rather normal to them: Hurricane Season. Well, that’s for normal years. But this year, there’s Hurricane Irma. And it is about to hit Puerto Rico.
When you talk with islanders, everyone mentions the continuous threat that can appear every fall, usually in a light to a medium condition as a “tropical storm”, but every once in a while that storm category is elevated up to the maximum: A category 5 hurricane.
While being on a Caribbean island anytime during the year is a fun experience, being there when a storm even just touches the island is not something I recommend to anyone. Every kind of traffic stops, even though infrastructure in Puerto Rico is very good. The outskirts of a hurricane, even if it passes hundreds of miles away, are bringing rain, storm and ugly weather for a week or more.
And now imagine this storm passing right above the island, just as it happens right today. Some people are being evacuated, but the big question is: Where to go if both airport and boat traffic are suspended? For most Puerto Ricans, their own home remains the safest place during a hurricane.
For the storm, islanders are bunkering water, gas, candles and food supplies for several days, and sometimes for more than a week. Because of the damage a category 5 hurricane can do, which includes causing earthquakes and disruption of power, communications and water supply, as well as wrecking roads and highways, you need to be prepared to remain alone for a longer time.
Some windows are closed with wooden boards, but usually, people use Miami windows that can withstand a storm. If you live near the beach, prepare for possible flooding. Then, the only thing that remains is to hope and wait.