Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico yesterday and left the island devastated. Most of the island does not have power and almost 840,000 people are without running water. According to The National Hurricane Center, the storm is now unleashing its wrath on the islands of Turks and Caicos as of Wednesday, Sept. 21, 11 a.m. PST. Weather experts are expecting the hurricane will narrowly miss Florida and the East Coast, but the storm is increasing in wind speed and rain volume to classify it as a Category 3 or 4 as it heads towards Bermuda and the Bahamas before eventually hitting the eastern tip of Canada.

The Caribbean islands depend largely on tourism for economic stability. Natural disasters such as Hurricane Fiona wipe out flights, power, water and so many other infrastructural necessities.

As meeting professionals, what can we do to feel secure in planning events at these desirable destination resorts during hurricane season? And an undoubtedly more important question, what can we do to aid these islands with funding and resources in order to ensure the island is better prepared and the people are safe when storms hit?

Travel Insurance

Hurricane season refers to tropical or subtropical storms moving into the Northern Hemisphere of the Atlantic Ocean that threaten the Caribbean islands and the North American east coast. The season typically begins in early July and can extend into late November. Although the season coincides with what many consider to be an ideal time for travel, planning an event in a destination that is vulnerable to unpredictable elements can be risky. As a meeting planner, you want to make sure you have a contingency plan in place and invest in travel insurance if the worst-case scenario occurs.

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Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO of VisitorsCoverage Inc., sheds light on how to protect yourself and your event during the unpredictable hurricane season and emphasizes the importance of travel insurance.

“To be covered for hurricane-related trip cancellations, you must purchase your trip insurance policy before the tropical storm or hurricane is named,” Shrivastava says. “If a hurricane or any other natural disaster leaves either your home or your lodging accommodations in your destination country inhabitable, you may be able to cancel your trip and be reimbursed for any prepaid expenses.”

Can We Help?

Although canceling an event in a destination resort can be upsetting, the focus should be on those who are directly affected by tropical storms such as Hurricane Fiona. While flights may need to be changed, lodging rearranged, timelines pushed back and even the entire event reworked, these burdens do not compare to the conditions citizens of the Caribbean are living with in the wake of such a powerful storm. The meeting professional industry can come together to think of ways to aid the people and the economy of the devastated destinations.

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American Airlines has stepped up to aid the Caribbean and utilized its partnership with American Red Cross to create an offer for its AAdvantage members that can aid Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos and all Caribbean islands affected by Hurricane Fiona. For every donation to the Red Cross over $25, American Airlines will reward its customers with 10 miles. As a member of the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program, American Airlines is urging travelers to contribute to the relief fund in the wake of the storm.


In November of 2021, President Biden created the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE) as an effort to aid developing countries such as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in their ability to handle climate change and natural disasters. In response to Hurricane Fiona, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (NSA) Jake Sullivan released an Action Plan to bolster PREPARE and engage with partners to prevent the gravity of destruction from happening to these islands during hurricane season.

The 3 pillars to the NSA’s PREPARE Action Plan are Knowledge, Plans/Programs and mobilizing resources:

Pillar 1: Knowledge

This knowledge pillar emphasizes the importance of observing climate changes and early warnings. Real-time monitoring of disaster warnings should be increased and shared and the accessibility to this data should be universal.

Pillar 2: Plans and Programs

Pillar 2 focuses on infrastructure, sustainability, resilience and water. PREPARE will implement programs to strengthen infrastructure by ensuring resilience is a key factor in design and strives towards “climate smart” master plans. Healthcare reform, food security concerns and displacement are also addressed in Pillar 2. Water is an obviously prominent issue after Hurricane Fiona, and Pillar 2 promises the U.S. Government will address both excessive water during storms due to global warming as well as scarcity of water affecting roughly half the world.

Pillar 3: Mobilizing Resources

Pillar 3 calls for an increase in finance allocated towards climate adaptation, with a focus on funds for universal access to climate information and disaster warnings. The Action Plan is working toward long-term observation and modeling systems for sustainable dissemination of local disaster warnings in poorer countries and requesting participation from both private and philanthropic entities to help develop, finance and apply these models.

What Now?

Hurricane season can leave entire regions and thousands of people devastated as is evident by Hurricane Fiona’s destruction to Puerto Rico and other islands of the Caribbean. As meeting professionals, the opportunity to plan a trip to areas vulnerable to hurricane season in a responsible way and with a humanitarian consciousness may take a little more research and planning, but the respect you receive and the peace of mind for doing so will outweigh the extra effort.


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