Although it seems that Dorian would not directly impact Florida, the presence of more than one million Puerto Ricans there triggers a great feeling of solidarity and eagerness to help among us, ready to reciprocate the affection shown two years ago.
Our solidarity and support should also extend to the residents of the Bahamas, where Dorian made landfall yesterday as a category 5 hurricane, and to communities in the Carolinas and Georgia, who are still at risk from storm surge.
As there may always be a shift in direction, residents of Florida, as well as other states on the southeast coast of the United States, must not let their guard down and follow authorities' recommendations to protect lives and property from the hurricane threat.
From Puerto Rico, calls of support to thousands of Puerto Ricans in Florida and the southeastern coast of the United States, as well as efforts to supply goods that would be heavily in demand in an emergency, have not stopped since last week. This is all part of our permanent commitment to them.
Florida has not experienced a hurricane such as Dorian since 1992 when Andrew hit Florida There is a whole generation living in that state who doesn’t know how devastating and dangerous such a storm can be. The only ones who did experience such a catastrophe are those Puerto Ricans who moved to the United States, fleeing from the devastation Hurricane María brought to their lives in 2017. And although so far forecasts note a swift in direction, Dorian will still bring major rains and flooding to the state.
In the best-case scenario, if Dorian does not make landfall on the mainland this time either, the experience will have helped the people to continue preparing in the face of increasingly active hurricane seasons, with more powerful storms.
Experts following Dorian point out that the greatest threat is heavy rains over long periods in Florida, the Carolinas, and Georgia. The level of preparedness –both at government and individual level- with neighbors working together on the safety of their communities – as shown in recent images, placing sandbags outside their homes – is the result of previous experiences, especially those lessons that thousands of Puerto Ricans, who went through the horror of María, still remember.
Puerto Rican immigrants, who have rebuilt their lives after the trauma of Hurricane María in 2017, feel anxious about Dorian, so they should feel the warmth of the island that understands and helps them, at times like this.
Here, we should also learn from the process in Florida over the past week, the previous distribution of one million gallons of water and food rations, and the role of brigades to respond to potential emergencies and to repair damage in electricity generating plants, for example.
In this state, different cities invested, and continue to invest, large amounts of money to address climate change, and where erosion and rising sea levels are already a priority.
Without a doubt, Dorian poses a serious threat to millions of residents in the eastern southern states. It is now important to ensure all necessary safety measures are being properly employed to protect lives and properties. It’s too early to let the guard down, both in Puerto Rico as in the mainland, since cyclonic activity heats up in September. Therefore, we must be increasingly aware of nature’s challenges and better prepared to deal with them.