The Aftermath: Post Hurricane Maria – Puerto Rico (Part 1 of 5)
It’s been about a year and half since Hurricane Maria went through the Caribbean. In this first segment, I have reached out to a few of our ABC members based in Puerto Rico to see how Hurricane Maria affected their business, and what their progress has been. I asked them a few questions, and after I received their responses I decided to feature their stories separately. While finalizing the content, I saw that Jimmy Fallon was recording a show in Puerto Rico. I have shared it below, in case you missed it. It was awesome, but most importantly it will prepare you to understand what our ABC members went through and how they survived.
Part 1 of 5: Meet Karen Martinez, Soiree by Karen, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Karen Martínez, RWP
Soirée by Karen
Wedding & Event Planner
Living in: San Juan, Puerto Rico (work the island)
Hello ABC friends! Wishing you success, health and peace on this 2019.
I’ve been in business for three years, but more than 15 feeling a strong passion for the events industry. I see hurricane threats every year, many of them luckily don’t become a reality, at least for the last 19 years or so. Until September 2017.
After hurricane María, there was an immediate and disconcerting black out followed by months of despair and uncertainty. No power, basic services, cold water was a luxury, houses and business destroyed, people suffering all over, help wasn’t getting there… it was just chaos. As a born and raised Puerto Rican, I have lived through various hurricanes. I thought the worst was Hugo in 1989. María far exceeded him in disaster.
All inquiries disappeared and our destination and local brides were obviously concerned, not just because of their wedding but also for my well-being. After those first months, I had to focus as much as possible on getting back up personally, emotionally and business-wise.
Everything started to pick up slowly. By December 2017, I started seeing the first weddings being held from other colleagues, which was very hopeful. The emails were also starting to pick up as well as my normal breathing!
Our industry coped amazingly during this time. Collaboration, cooperation, reaching out to vendors, helping others and providing relief was the order of the day. Although, there weren’t high expectations for anything and most events during October to December were cancelled, we focused on rebuilding and getting ready for the future. This event made me understand, among other things, the importance of a force majeure clause on a contract o service agreement as well as helping clients understand what it means to have unforeseen nature events like this on your wedding location. Educating our clients is imperative. Insurance is a must, had it before the hurricane and continue to treasure it!
Hurricane Maria although it was a disaster, revealed strength that I didn’t know I had. They say in moments of adversity is where you need to shine bright and be the light. Stepping forward to help, finding the courage to hold on for better times and translate that security and peace to others as well as your clients, has been my key to surpass this moment in history.
We are resilient, hard workers and always hopeful. That is the true Puerto Rican spirit, which holds dear on our hearts.
Hotel La Concha (preparation)
Hotel El Convento (Ceremony & Brunch Reception)
Photography – Andel Photography
Décor & Flowers – T by T Events
Professional Headshot Credit: – Noel Del Pilar Photographer
January 28, 2019
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