[IMG: Hurricane Georges making landfall on the Dominican Republic September 22, 1998; Credit: Dennis Chesters, Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, Craig Mayhew, and Hal Pierce, Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Caribbean Hurricane Page

Updates from the Islands
Georges - Puerto Rico

If you are looking for family/friends on Puerto Rico, you can post your plea for help on the Puerto Rico Lost & Found Bulletin Board. For people who have been in contact with Puerto Rico, or live on Puerto Rico, please, also take a look at this Bulletin Board and try to see if you can help out these sometimes desparate people...

The most recent updates can be found on another page.

Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 12:06:11 -0400
From: Angel M. Villamil (avilla@prtc.net)
Subject: PR Situation

Sept. 28/98

This is the first time I login since hurricane Georges.  Conditions in PR
are slowly returning to "normal".  40% electricity and 70% water services
are functioning.  Local telephones are workign 80% capacity.  There is some
trouble with long distance calls. If you know of somebody with internet
acces in the vecinity of your family you can e-mail said person, maybe he
could give details of conditions prevailing in the area.  San Juan
Metropolitan area, and near cities are relativelly in good conditions.
Wood and aluminum buildings are very damage but no direct human casualties
(except for 2 persons that had a heart stroke and died in Aguadilla).
Contact red cross they can channalize any help or information.  South,
southeast and southwest part of PR are very damaged, but thank God we are
on our way of recovering from this situation, hopefully in the near future.

Angel M. Villamil, Esq.
Member HTML Writers Guild

Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 09:39:48 -0500 From: Alicia Coverston (acoverst@iupui.edu) Subject: RE: Vieques It seems that Vieques was not as hard hit as the main island. My brother-in-law went there and said that most of the damage was to squaters' homes in Monte Carmelo and in Villa Borinquen, where most homes are built out of wood. They supposedly have electricity now, but still have no water or telephone service, although calls within the island go through. Here is a message I received from Wanda Bermudez, who had someone go there. Thanks again for all your help. "My brother got back from Vieques yesterday. He says the damage in Vieques was not much at all. There was not much structure damage. The airport did not get damaged other than a couple of aluminum sheets that were loose on a cover walkway. The ferry boats did not get damaged at all. The Esperanza area looks fine also. The only damage he could see was on trees and vegetation, broken branches, uprooted trees, wind burned leaves and such. Sun Bay beach got some beach erosion, in the middle of the bay, exposing rocks and coral that was previously covered by sand. The northern shore did not suffer much impact. Electric service was restored yesterday. There is still no water. People are procuring water from a well next to Sun Bay beach. There is no phone communication to the outside but local calls are possible. I also read on El Nuevo Dia's internet edition of their newspaper at http://www.endi.com that there will be a satellite installed at the City Hall to communicate to Puerto Rico." -- Wanda Bermudez http://www.vieques-island.com vieques-@vieques-island.com
Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 09:02:28 -0500 From: Megan Lugo (megan.y.lugo@ac.com) Thank god we finally got in touch with our family in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico! Many tears of joy have been shed. They are all O.K. and although there was some damage to my grandmother's home, it seems to be salvageable. My family seems to be doing their best in this difficult situation. One of my aunts said she wished she had a video camera because Puerto Rico looks like it did when she was a little girl. She said my grandmother was down at a fresh water stream doing her laundry with some other women from their town. As for damage, we were told that on one street the electrical posts could be up but on the next street everything is flattened. They are having a water shortage and as we were speaking to them one of my aunts was waiting in a water line my grandmother said she could be in for hours. All of my grandmother's fruit trees are gone, however most of her animals survived. Their gas tank survived so they are able to cook, but they will have to be vegetarians indefinitely as it seems as if power will be out for quite a while. Thank you so much for this information service. It has been the only place I could get any specific information about what was happening in P.R., especially right after the storm. Megan Lugo
Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 09:20:46 -0400 From: Terry Castro Vega (vega@telephonics.com) Subject: Yauco Aftermath conditions due to the hurricane in Yauco were quite severe - the shopping mall was 50%-75% destroyed.  Sartoruis Pharmacutical sustained quite a bit of damage but the building is still standing.  Yauco sustaining major damage since I was told it was in the direct path of the hurricane.  My mother (Anna M. Castro) from Lindenhurst. NY and her twin sister (Anna L. Vega) from Orlando, FL (both 88 yrs old) were visiting family (Mr. Luis Orengo and his daughter Mrs. Debbie Orengo Rivera) in Yauco when the hurricane hit.  Thank God all in my family are fine however, the town was isolated for days, but everyone helped eachother and managed.  Water was restored on Thursday 9/24 and electricity and phone were restored on Saturday 9/26.  Spoke to Yauco on Sunday 9/27 and things are picking up for them.  No reported deaths as far a I know and the town in a full clean-up mode.  A special thanks to Jose Cruz and Richard Montalvo who I contacted in my desperation for info on Yauco when I was looking for my Mom and family.  Thank a mil. A side note - my Dad's family is from San Sebastian - any news about that town - how did they fare?   Terry Castro Vega e-mail: vega@mail.telephonics.com
Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 08:03:13 -0300 From: Debra Vela (davela@caribe.net) Checking in from San Juan . . . Great news! Just heard from my Consultant in Ponce. They just got their phones back! So they're coming back to life as well. For those who haven't heard from loved ones - please be patient, phones are coming back up daily. The better news from them is they only have to wait one hour in line to get a bag of ice - we have to wait a minimum of five. I told Marshall forget the hour, if two trays will do you, I'll bring it in to work every day, we can leave it in the freezer since we're on full power there and you take it home to have a cool drink in the evening. He said okay. Ice is gold here. I still haven't heard from my Consultant in Rio Grande. I will try again today. Hang in there everyone - I'm recharged! v.
Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 01:35:52 -0500 From: Jim Skillington Subject: Links You May Want to Note We invite you to add information on your site about the Disaster News Network. Our Puerto Rico Response page (http://www.disasternews.net/puertorico) now has information about disaster response and will continue to stay up-to-date as long as responders are active -- likely for the next few years. From this page, we provide links to disaster response org's that are requesting donations and, when they are announced, we will provide the most complete information available about volunteer opportunities on the island. Jim Skillington Disaster News Network http://www.disasternews.net Sponsored by Church World Service 410-203-9119 or 1-888-203-9119 news@disasternews.net
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 22:13:00 -0600 From: Brian Robertson (robertso@frii.com) Subject: Vieques contacts after Georges We have been in contact with Bill (wthomas3@maine.rr.com) and he has been in contact with a women named Helen on Vieques [...] -anyway he says phones are still out and it may be another week--thought they had power for awhile but then maybe a generator on main island blew--says they can hear generators running all over island--the stores on the island are giving away food to those in need and all are helping each other--water is brought by ferry from main island--only one known injury of smashed finger--most damage is broken windows--all in all they say things are pretty good--the Mar Azul is open and serving drinks--contact works there part time--thanks for all you do--if I knew who to tell I would recommend you for some sort of medal-- Brian
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 23:42:13 -0400 From: Mike (montalvo@monisys.ca) Subject: News From Cabo Rojo I finaly contacted my mom at Cabo Rojo she and every one else is ok uhm unfortunatly my mother said that there was only 2 dead in Cabo Rojo they didn't want to listen the it was comming and the house fell on them sorry to say that and worry any body I yet on't know who they were but as soon as I can get a hold of my mom again hopfully she'll know. Well my mother told me that yes the eye did come out through Cabo Rojo, she said that 2 tornados were formed too and that when the eye was on top of them it was total silience and stillness for 1 hour then it just hit again but stronger and thats where the roofs of houses flew, my mother had a big water tank she lost it cause the when flew a steel sheet and it cut it like a razor blade so she lost al her water, my mother also had a business she lost the roof and part of it, the entire roof of our niebors fell 2 feet away from my grandmothers car there is still no light and no water, and the phone lines work part way you can call to Cabo Rojo but they have a really hard time to call out my mother hasn't been able to call out but some family has been able to call her, she said that this hurracane is the worst one sinces San Felipe in 1958 (If I am not mistaken) there are bearly any trees, my mother lost all of her quenapa trees and mango trees she has left to aguacato trees and half of another on cause it was cut by a steel sheet, she also went to the beach and well the beach is very dirty the winds took out all the bottom of the sea like seaweeds and just covered all of the beach with it, and uhm I forgot the town my mother said but, just so you know the stregth of things there was a damn that got broken and the water presure was so strong it went through a bakery it took out al of the big ovens through the front and they were at the business in front and a dealer lost all of his 1999 cars the all smashed agains one onother and the widows poped, my mom said they did like dominos reaction, well so far thats all the news I have for now, sorry for all the spelling mistakes and I hope who ever still hasn't contacted their love ones can and if I can help in any way I will, good luck and may God bless you all... and thanx to those who tryed helping me :o) Mike PS: I really feel bad for my sweet little Island it use to be one of the most beautiful places it's a shame it lost it's beauty, for now.......Love to all
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 19:25:33 -0400 From: Cindy (cruciger@terranova.net) Subject: Some Humorous notes from Puerto Rico The Hurricane wasn't with out one or two moments of wide grins. Dave O'Neil in Aguadilla asked a friend if he could store his car in their enclosed garage. His friend said yes and gave him the garage door opener. The car is fine. But. there is no power there and no other way to get to his car! His friend evacuated and won't be back for some time! So. Anyone there in Aguadilla with a car, please pick Dave up. He is stranded. <g> My Mother works for Sony corporation in Ft. Meyers, Fla. The night of the hurricane she got a call fron San Juan from a woman in a storm shelter - calling from a cell phone {Gotta love cell phones!} asking how to put the batteries in her new radio! Tip for next time, put the batteries in before it gets too dark to see anything.<vbg> My home here in the keys is still standing but the place is a major mess. I was homeless for four days while the county government decided if they wanted us back. One road in and one road out and a man with a very big gun standing at the entrance. Wearing black. In the subtropical heat. Which means he wasn't a happy man with a very big gun. So we just stared at him for two days from our car, until he finally blinked. Hang tough. The power will be restored. The water problem is probably endless. Cisterns. Fema should buy everyone a cistern like they have in Puerto Penasco, Mexico and Bermuda. Tell them I said so. Sincerely, Cindy Cruciger
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 19:19:40 -0400 From: "rafa://puerto rico" (rafapr@sprynet.com) Subject: Georges +6 Days 27-IX, 2330Z, 07:30 pm EDT This is a VERY loose translation and transcription from a local TV news program. A father and his grown son suffered burns while refueling a portable generator in Humacao. The house they were in and five cars were totally burned. The victims were hospitalized, one of them with 2nd degree burns on 7% of his body. A hospital spokesman said that this was not the first burn case, caused while refueling generators. Lares, a coffee-growing, mountain town, still has no water, nor power. The mayor said that 90% of the wooden houses had been lost, and 60-70% of the roads are impassible. Refugees need cots and sleeping bags in the shelters. The bridge at Pozuela is out, and it alone connects the town to 8 additional sectors. There is no local AM radio, nor phones. An additional 10 bridges in the town are damaged. A commercial from the water works tells us that there are 51 tanker trucks distributing water. Unfortunately, the trucks were apparently bankers or lawyers in another life. The timetable is 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Local health authorities are worried about additional 'dengue' outbreak. The State Secretary of Health, did not have the number of new cases for last week. (As if anyone was going around counting who had a new dengue case.) She also explained how water should be purified. Jot this down, you never know when it might come in handy. Add 8 drops of common Clorox, to a gallon of water, shake and let sit for 30 minutes. If a child has diarrhea or vomiting, a good substitute for Pedialyte is 1-2 teaspoons of sugar, and one of salt in a quart of water. If possible, water must be boiled three minutes. Maybe I'm missing something here, put I thought the water coming out of the pipes was potable. The ONLY hospital STILL without electrical power, is La Concepción Hospital in San Germán. Nine airplanes arrived from the States with 10,500 blankets and 3,000 cots. The court system will remain closed until October 5th. The US Air Force, no kidding, has sent a fact finding mission to check up on how federal funds are being used for those in need. They visited various shelters, taking photos and video. Ice is now Puerto Rico's cold gold. Lines near ice plants are blocks long, and the wait is a good 8-10 hours. Some people show up in the middle of the night to claim their stake. A couple of incidents of ice-jacking, a new crime even in Puerto Rico's criminal code, have occurred. Police are protecting the ice plants. The Power Authority expects to meet it's goal of electrifying 50% of Puerto Rico by midnight tonight. The other 50% may have to wait up to 7 months. 80% of the islands mayors are in contact with the State Crisis Center. No mention made of the other 18 towns. There are 18,520 refugees in 224 shelters, 120 of them schools. Public schools will open tomorrow IF they have water service. Plans are underway to move refugees to vacant industrial buildings, to clear out the schools. State government employees were paid on Friday, advancing their payday by a week. Unfortunately the checks were dated September 30th.. In spite of all of the previous, we are still washing clothe when no thought there could ever be more filthy clothe, hacking at fallen trees when one would think there's a tree still standing, we are still sweeping leaves off sidewalks, when one would expect that there couldn't be any more leaves, using enough flashlights to light up a baseball stadium and lugging around enough water in anything that has four sides and bottom, to fill a fleet of ocean-going ship tankers.
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 18:08:03 -0400 (EDT) From: M.Cintron (spiritbear@webtv.net) Subject: Guanica/Ensenada We have finally been able to contact relatives in Guanica and Ensenada. The situation in the larger town of Guanica is extremely critical due to a complete lack of drinking water. Families have begun to run out and none has been available via the supermarkets which are also totally out of food. The report from my aunt is that the wooden houses in town have mostly all been destroyed. Again, thankfully, there are no deaths reported. As road 116 appears to have finally been opened we are praying that water and supplies will finally be arriving but there are no guarantees and I am asking anyone who has the ability to mobilize a convoy to the area to please do so. This is an area that was incommunicado for many days. Phone service is slowly being restored. The town of Ensenada seems to have faired a little better. Although some of the wooden houses were destroyed others survived. Roof were blown off some houses yet it appears that the majority of homes were spared. One uncle has a very old wooden house overlooking the baseball park and it survived intact. Another aunt had half her roof blown away but the majority suffered little or no damage. Some trees appear to have survived as well. Again the critical need here is for drinking water and food. Phone service has been restored to many homes. There are some relatives who live further up on calle Luna who we have been unable to reach at all however so if anyone has any information from that area, please contact me. My uncle is Eusebio Negron. He and his wife have not been heard from. Thank you for maintaining this website, it has been a beacon of hope for many of us even when the news has been extremely bleak. Just being able to hear some news has kept many of us from falling into total despair. God bless you all. M.Cintron New York City
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 17:39:17 -0400 From: Jorge L. Belendez (belendez@caribe.net) Subject: A STORY ABOUT A "COQUI" - WE WILL ENDURE, WE WILL PERSIST, WE WILL PREVAIL... Dear Family and Friends: This morning I had so much to do that I forgot to tell you something that happenned last night that for me is VERY, VERY important. Last night I awoke at about 4:30 am and I was very thirsty. So I went and got myself a room temperature glass of water (reminded me of my Army training days) and went to the balcony of my eight floor apartment to check on the Security Guard (remember its almost total darkness out there) while I slowly drank the glass of water. Everything was very, very quiet. At that time it usually is, but these days it is even more so since there are no motors, air conditioners or background noise. And suddenly I heard what to me is always a BEAUTIFUL sound, but it was even more significant last night: a Coqui. It was, as you can imagine, HEAVENLY MUSIC to my ears. Also it was music to my soul. If my layman's information is correct, and please, I am open to corrections, jajaja, for those of you who may not be familiar with the "Coqui", the "Coqui" is a very small frog that we call Coqui because of the melodious sound it sings that phonetically would sound something like "ko-kee". Our Coqui is from the Leptodactylidae family of frogs (order Anura), that includes more than 600 species, most of which are found in South and Central America. Within that family there is a small species, "Eleutherodactylus jasperi", that is restricted ONLY to Puerto Rico. Many attempts have been made to breed our Coqui out of Puerto Rico. All unsuccessful. All of them. They all die. The Coqui is SO Puertorrican it dies outside Puerto Rico. So I must admit, that last night was more than just hearing a little frog sound. It's meaning went far, far beyond that. That, to me, reassuring and beautiful sound meant that even the national symbol "the coqui, a frog that has become a symbol of Puerto Rico." (Copyright © 1994-1998 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. - The West Indies, physical and human geography, the land, Puerto Rico), that the symbol was still there. And it had survived this national disaster and it will survive many others. Needless to say this was VERY significant to me. And I am sure that all of you feel the same way. The Coqui, after all, is just barely 3/4 of an inch. Puerto Rico is just 35 by 105 miles. Both are small. But we survive. It was, believe me, music to my soul. Tomorrow is the first day of the reconstruction of our land. And like the Coqui I heard last night, we will endure, we will persist, we will prevail. Believe me, I went back to sleep feeling much better. :) Gods bless you all Jorge
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 11:32:55 -0400 From: Jorge L. Belendez (belendez@caribe.net) Subject: A BIT OF NEWS FROM BATTERED PUERTO RICO - SUNDAY 27 SEP 98. It SUNDAY 27: The work and coordination continues. However time also passes and the needs for the basic necessarily increases. So the water and food some households had is now consumed and the problem in some areas where there is just one road becomes more critical. It seems that now all towns have at least one road open, specially, naturally, the towns in the center of the Island. The job of cleaning, although it is going as fast as possible, is also becoming critical as there are dead animals all over the more affected areas. This as everybody know constitutes a very distinct health hazard. Part of the trend of our times is to decentralize corporate structures and have the decision making more at the lower levels. This same basic philosophy should be applied to Puerto Rico by empowering the Municipality with the authority and the resources to deal with this type of natural disaster. But this should by no mean stop there, as everyday life can also be materially improved at the municipality (town) level. The day after the disaster one Mayor called the National Guard to seek some specific help (not a major thing) and was asked to write a letter so that the could provide the service. Here are some local news that I remember in between the all chores I am doing. Hope it help a bit: PUBLIC EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The Secretary of Education has indicated a simple rule for the start of classes; if the school has water there are classes tomorrow Monday, if the specific school does not have water there is no class in that school. CAROLINA: - - - - - - The Mayor has reported that this municipality suffered more than $100 million in damages and he estimates the private property damage to be in excess of $65 million. At one point the persons in the shelters were 217 and that has been reduced to 64 persons in shelters. Carolina, reports the Mayor that the distribution of monetary help, in the form of $1,000 checks THE SAME DAY THAT THE HURRICANE ENDED. From tomorrow on the Municipal Police will start to serve as a kind of internal "courier" in that municipality. This now only serves the purpose of making the procedure more direct, also helps the constituency get more familiar with the Municipal Police. The Carolina Municipality government also continues to provide help with all GUANICA: - - - - - - Guanica road #116 is now open. CULEBRA: - - - - - - It has been informed that Culebra has electricity now. The Island of Culebra did not suffer as much as it did during HUGO. Although by no means was spared. Actually no part of Puerto Rico was spared. VIEQUES: - - - - - - Also reported to have electricity. YAUCO: - - - - - Suffered quite a bit of damage. Still seems not to have telephone communication. The work continues. It is an uphill battle, but it continues. I will try to write more later. God bless you all. Jorge L. Belendez
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 09:51:25 -0400 From: "rafa://puerto rico" (rafapr@sprynet.com) Subject: Pst-Georges #2 There is a link on el Nuevo Dia's web page (http://endi.com/locales) with the following title, Restablecimiento de servicios tras el huracán. It has a rundown of what the current situation is in a good deal of towns. Those of you looking for specifics on particular towns, might want to check it out.
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 10:16:57 EDT From: Nypaws@aol.com Subject: Maricao Further news from the Montoso area of Maricao as of 25 Sept. Our casita made of plywood with a galvanized metal roof was undamaged! It is backed against a hilltop with the front of the house raised up on long poles, and it has two large unprotected windows which face west toward Cabo Rojo. It was a miracle that it was not blown away, and I can only hope that there are many other casitas all over that have been likewise spared. I have still not been able to get through on the phone, but have received word through friends who have called out from the town. My heart goes out to the people, creatures and natural world which have been so devastated. Please make any contributions you can to appropriate agencies. Gaynor Cote'

Earlier reports have been moved to this webpage.

| Back to Caribbean Hurricane Page | Hurricane Guide | QHWRL | More 1998 Season | 1997 Season | 1996 Season |