Tropical storm Dorian passed very near to Barbados on Monday night and is expected to move into the eastern Caribbean Sea by Tuesday. Most of Puerto Rico is expected to be impacted by Dorian on Wednesday. Initially, the storm was expected to strengthen into a hurricane on its way to Puerto Rico, but according to the latest Monday night update, it is weakening. It may be a weak Category 1 Hurricane or a strong tropical storm by the time it moves across Puerto Rico Wednesday night.
Wind speed probabilities for Tropical Storm Dorian. Puerto Rico is in the red zone. Photo: National Hurricane Center.
Protect our people
Puerto Rico-based MS Mango is preparing where possible, but very concerned about Dorian. “We are very concerned about the trees,” says Eileen Rodriguez of MS Mango. “We just finished our mango season and the trees have been pruned, so that will help in having less branch damage. Other than that, there is not much we can do to protect the trees,” added Rodriguez. “We can protect our structures, equipment and most importantly, prevent injuries or fatalities to our most valuable resources, our people.”
Papayas at risk
MS Mango just finished its mango season for the European market and feels fortunate to have distributed all its fruit before any disaster arrived. However, there are still other crops at risk. “Currently, we have papayas, pumpkins, zucchini and pickles in season,” Rodriguez shared. “Out of all these crops, papayas are the most sensitive to weather events. We grow papayas all year long and it’s our main crop for the local market.”
Hurricane Maria washed out farm
Two years ago, in September, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria. “We lost 100 percent of our papaya crop due to Hurricane Maria,” said Rodriguez. “Maria did so much damage to our farm, our neighbors and our beautiful island. As a result, the last two years have been transforming for us.” It has taken a lot of hard work, unity and consistency for the farms and communities in Puerto Rico to recover from Hurricane Maria. “We had to start from zero on the local market as our farm was washed out completely,” Rodriguez said. Not all farmers were able to continue their operations after Hurricane Maria, but MS Mango worked very closely with its neighbor-farmers and was able to recover. “The day after Hurricane Maria we had employees showing up to start working towards recovery. We’ve learned so much from Hurricane Maria and will use this experience to grow as a company and as a neighbor,” Rodriguez finished.