Stab Magazine | Checking In On Puerto Rico

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Checking In On Puerto Rico

Surf industry starts to rally around Waves For Water’s Caribbean relief efforts.

news // Oct 5, 2017
Words by Jake Howard
Reading Time: 3 minutes

While the leader of the free world tosses paper towels to hurricane survivors in San Juan, Puerto Rico, like it’s an arcade game at Dave and Busters, surfers are getting down to business in the Caribbean.

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria and Irma, Waves For Water continues to step up and assist in averting a humanitarian catastrophe. The aid organization has currently established water filter implementation programs in Puerto Rico, St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John, Antigua, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and have their sights set on Dominica as well.

“After launching our initial response to Hurricane Irma, we were cautiously standing by, watching Hurricane Maria’s rapid increase in power, elevating from a Category 1 hurricane to a Category 5. With much discussion amongst our internal team, we collectively decided that the best course of action was for our teams to remain in St. Croix and Puerto Rico to ride out the storms — which would enable us to rapidly respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and reach at-risk populations as soon as possible,” reports Caitlan Rowe, operations director for W4W.

As previously reported by Stab, Rose and Ben Bourgeois, along with Jimmy Wilson and W4W Haiti Country Director Fritz Pierre-Louis, endured the brunt of Maria’s force on St. Croix. Meanwhile, Field Operations Director Rob McQueen and Otto Flores hunkered down in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
 
“Now both teams are working tirelessly to implement the filters as quickly and with the highest impact possible. Power is still out, communication has been in and out at best, although both teams have SAT phones which is how I’m gathering the info from them,” continues Rowe. “We were able to get an additional 1,100 filters in Puerto Rico alone last week and are currently working on the west coast targeting Rincon, where there have been limited relief efforts thus far, as well as getting additional systems implemented in Isabela and Aguadilla. We will continue to increase support, both with filters and team members in the coming weeks.”

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“Now both teams are working tirelessly to implement the filters as quickly and with the highest impact possible. Power is still out, communication has been in and out at best, although both teams have SAT phones which is how I’m gathering the info from them.”

Factions of the surf industry are taking notice and getting behind the effort. Recent Stab In The Dark winner Jon Pyzel announced that him and John Florence have put a signed board up on eBay to auction off with funds going to support the W4W effort. The board’s currently listed at $1,025.

“It’s crazy when Mother Nature gives us a reminder of just how unpredictable these storms can be. I know things are rough down in the Caribbean right now and I hope the people are doing okay. I’m really stoked on the things that @wavesforwater is doing to help out. Every little bit of help counts,” wrote Florence on Instagram shortly following the storm.

“I think of it like this—help people who are living without water, electricity or any basic needs AND get yourself a little piece of surfing history signed by the world champ! We will ship anywhere,” posted Pyzel on Facebook.

Meanwhile, the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association is also getting behind the effort. Announced this week, SIMA is currently running a fundraising campaign through their Humanitarian Fund.

“Surf culture and the surf industry have a long history with Puerto Rico, starting with the fourth World Surfing Championships held there in 1968,” said Dylan Slater, President of the SIMA Humanitarian Fund, in a prepared press statement. “The people, the surfing community and the surfing industry has been significantly impacted by these storms, and we feel an obligation to do what we can to help them get back on their feet.”

SIMA’s aim is to raise $30,000 for W4W. They’re asking for donations to be made by Wednesday, October 11, so they can get the funds to W4W and put them to use immediately.

Surfers have long reveled in the cobalt blue waters and sugar white sand beaches of the Caribbean. Now, after all those good times, it’s time to step up and pay it forward. 

To help the cause, head here

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