The last few weeks have been catastrophic for those emotionally, physically, and economically impacted by the destruction of the hurricanes in North America. I believe that should cover the geography of the storm without splitting hairs over worldwide travel patterns, flight delays, and cancellations.
The storms are frightening, unpredictable, and have lasting effects on those communities. It was only several months after my family and I moved from Missouri to Louisiana that we experienced our first hurricane. Katrina was her name. As I’m reading and listening to stories from friends, loved ones, and journalists who rode out the storms and are now sifting through the wreckage, there is a deep sense of sadness and helplessness nagging my soul.
My mother and her companion live in Naples. They stayed in their home, albeit with hurricane shutters and urged not to do so, but thankfully survived, but are without power and have limited access to communication which is rather scary for senior citizens. But, I do understand that after seeing images of St. Thomas, they do not want to be displaced.
With such vast numbers of the population still without electricity or even phone and Internet service, it’s extremely difficult to estimate when businesses will be open again or if they need to remain closed until infrastructure is repaired or completely rebuilt.
If you are traveling to destinations that were in the path of Irma and Harvey, please know that the travel industry is doing its best to provide updates as quickly as possible. Airlines and Cruise lines are providing emergency transport to deliver food and supplies to Caribbean destinations, such as St. Thomas, St. Maarten / Sint Maarten, and to bring tourists home who have been stranded for many days.
Delta has put several wide body jets into service doubling the departures from Miami. Norwegian Cruise Lines has taken the Norwegian Sky out of service to be used for humanitarian efforts.
I received a list of hotel closures due to Hurricane Irma and destination updates today which I am including in this post. If you are looking for specific properties via our hotel programs (Select and Worldwide Hotels, multiple hotel chains and local properties), you may access information via that link. There is also a Multi-Property link from our tour operators which has been included as well.
We will be in personal contact with our clients who are traveling to the destinations or are in the process of planning vacations to these destinations or hotels. Cruise line itineraries, for immediate departures, will most likely be altered depending on when are where you are traveling. The cruise lines are doing their best to accommodate those passengers traveling within the next few weeks or those still trying to get home.
In most cases, the cruise lines will be waiving change fees should your vacation itinerary need to be altered due to islands being closed to tourism until further notice.
I’m praying that the people of areas needing assistance receive provisions as soon as possible and that all money and donations move quickly and directly into the hands of those who desperately need the help. The geographical areas hit by hurricanes economically depend on tourism to feed their families and survive. The hotels, shops, cruise ports, local transportations companies, tour operators, restaurants, and bars, all rely upon hosting foreign (and domestic) travelers to support their local economy. Citizens of these islands, Florida, and Texas are some of the most hospitable people in the world who want to show those wishing to relax and soak in the beauty of the islands a vacation of a lifetime. They have an exemplary work ethic and desperately wish to get back to normal life to provide for their families.
I’m not going to direct anyone to donate to a specific organization, but please do your research to make sure that the non-profit organization you choose has a proven track record of delivering quickly and that the money has had a positive lasting impact in former disaster efforts. Haiti is a tragic example of global organizations that took advantage of the earthquake to profit for personal and material gain. Billions of dollars were collected and less than 6% of the donations were delivered to the communities impacted by the destruction. People are still dying in Haiti as the infrastructure and industry promised, never materialized.
Thank you for your support and I’ll continue posting messages as I receive them.