What happens next for Ponce de Leon, the island where the eruption took place?
By John VibesNovember 14, 2017 11:00amThe island of Ponce De Leon in the Caribbean is now officially a ghost town.
The island, which has been the subject of intense media scrutiny in recent weeks, is now a tourist destination, and visitors are encouraged to take photos and film the island’s natural beauty.
A day after Hurricane Irma made landfall, the United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) declared the island a “hazard zone” for tourists, with “no access to public beaches, no access to open water or swimming, no food and no drinking water.”
Ponce de León is the second island to become a ghost city in less than two weeks.
The previous disaster occurred on the morning of September 11, when a massive storm surge flooded the island of Saint Martin, in the Atlantic Ocean.
The storm swept away all life and destroyed the island.
Since then, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have seen the island become a tourist magnet, with tourists visiting the island each day and spending more than $50 million in tourism taxes.
But this isn’t the only island in the region that has been experiencing a surge of tourists, as the U,S.
territories of Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands have also experienced massive surges in tourism.
“There are people that have been to Ponce, but there are people who have come to Saint Martin,” said Marlene Kost, director of the Puerto Rican Tourism Development Foundation.
“And it is not only tourists that have gone there.”
The U.N. Human Rights Council recently warned that tourists should not use social media to report or share information about the island, as it is “not conducive to the promotion of human rights.”
“Ponce is a very important place, and people know that,” Kost said.
“They don’t want to lose it.”
Kost said the island has seen an uptick in people returning to Puna, Puerto Rico, and other areas of the island that are still under the threat of Hurricane Irma.
“We have had some really positive things that happened in the past couple weeks.
So, there is still a lot of hope and anticipation,” she said.
According to the NHC, the Ponce Islands are among the hardest-hit areas in the U-19 region in the event of an evacuation.
A total of 13 people were confirmed dead in Puerto Rico and 12 in the Virgin Islands.
A spokesperson for the U of M’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering said the university has been monitoring the island with geophysical and geochemical surveys and that “significant water levels” are in the area.
According, the university’s campus will remain closed to the public for the rest of the week, but “there are some other important areas” that will reopen to the general public in the coming days, including the library, residence halls, and campus buildings.
The University of Minnesota and other partners are also assisting with the recovery effort, Kost added.
“The University will be opening a new campus on campus and providing support to local and federal partners to help us rebuild,” the spokesperson said.
Ponce De La Cruz, the main island in Puerto Ricos western territory, has experienced a massive amount of damage from the storm, according to a statement from the U’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
The island is located about 120 miles (190 kilometers) east of San Juan, Puerto Ricans capital, and is home to some 30,000 people.
“In the wake of Hurricane Maria, the devastation that has occurred on Ponce is staggering,” said the statement, which also pointed out that the island was home to about 30 percent of the population.
“This includes 1,000 schools, as well as a variety of infrastructure, including bridges, roads, power plants, and public transportation,” the statement continued.
“The island’s economic, cultural, and recreational landscape is devastated, with significant damage to the island infrastructure, with a total of 1,200 buildings damaged.”