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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hurricane Saviors



Across the US and neighboring Caribbean islands, weather watchers have been glued to their televisions, newspapers, and the internet for updates on the wild and dangerous storms pelting streets and neighborhoods. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, two of the strongest hurricanes on record, have caused extensive damage, temporary homelessness and even death. It’s difficult to view the images released across the media without feeling helpless… and perhaps a little hopeless.

However, there are stories of hope and heroism in regard to these storms. While thousands of people have been negatively impacted by these storms, there are many quiet heroes lending helping hands to those in need.  The human spirit and urge to “do something” to help victims during crises are alive and well.


Cruise ship helps flood victims

Big Business, Big Hearts

Businesses large and small have suffered the consequences of these super storms. From Mom and Pop shops, to SeaTREK operators, to major corporations, crushing winds and rising water levels have caused businesses to cease operation. However, many businesses have also stepped forward to help those in need.  Cruise lines, who have had to cancel thousands of vacations and remove ships from island ports, have come forward to offer assistance. Royal Caribbean sent its ship, “Majesty of the Seas” to pick up evacuees and take them to Puerto Rico. Norwegian Cruise Lines is utilizing their “Norwegian Sky” ship to carry much-needed supplies from Miami to St. Thomas. Carnival Cruise Lines is sending 11 ships to make 36 deliveries throughout the hard-hit island regions. Additionally, Carnival has donated $1 million to disaster relief efforts. Carnival Chairman, Micky Arison, and his wife Madeleine are also contributing $1 million from their foundation.

Large companies are stepping forward with millions of dollars to assist storm victims. Walmart has pledged up to $20 million in cash, products and matching donations, while Verizon has contributed $10 million. On Friday, tech billionaire Michael Dell pledged $36 million to relief efforts. Citgo, the petroleum company, is giving $3 million to relief efforts in Houston, while it’s competitor ConocoPhillips made a $2.5 million donation to both the Red Cross and the United Way of Greater Houston. You can learn more about large businesses and how they are helping with recovery efforts here: http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/30/news/companies/hurricane-harvey-corporate-donations/index.html

Celebrities fundraiser telethon

Celebrities Step It Up

JJ Watt, a Texans Defensive End, began a page on YouCaring, to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. He initially set a $500,000 goal, which was quickly eclipsed. At this time the site has raised over $32 million, including a $100,000 donation from Watt himself. And, Houston Rockets owner, Leslie Alexander, initially pledged $4 million to relief efforts, matching the teams’ donation, but upped that to $10 million. 

Singer Edie Brickell and husband Paul Simon gave $1 million to Harvey relief efforts, focusing on the smaller towns surrounding the Houston area, medical emergencies and restoration of homes as priorities. 

Actress Kristen Bell, who is currently filming in Miami, not only organized hotel rooms for a stranded family, she also entertained seniors in a hotel by organizing bingo games and performing song and dance routines.

Former NFL Quarterback Tim Tebow stopped by several Florida shelters, offering a mental break and lifting spirits of Irma evacuees. 

Several celebs banded together and raised funds via a telethon. Houston native Beyoncé joined forces with Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, George Clooney, Reese Witherspoon, Stevie Wonder and Barbra Streisand and raised over $44 million dollars to support Harvey victims, via “Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief".


People Helping People

While big businesses and well-known faces are assisting by donating time and money, others without the ability to donate financially on a large scale are making a difference in other ways.  Airbnb.com hosts are opening up their rental homes to storm victims, free of charge. 

PinecrestBakery passed out coffee to everyone waiting in line for gas at a nearby station, and provided food to National Guard police officers on duty in storm-riddled Miami. Small businesses in Denton, Texas have banded together to help victims of Harvey by collecting donations and offering free services.

Truly awe-inspiring, Sister Margaret Ann, a nun in Miami Dade, wielded her chainsaw to cut trees and clear neighborhood roadways!

Hurricane Nun chainsaw
  
Animals and Wildlife

In addition to helping human victims, animals have also benefited from relief efforts. PetSmart is donating $1 million to animal welfare agencies that have been working to rescue and relocate homeless pets in the storm-ravaged areas. These animal welfare organizations include the Houston SPCA, the SPCA of Texas, Rescue Bank, and Houston PetSet. Another way that the pet retailer is helping out during this disaster is to provide donations for pet food and supplies.

In Florida, Zoo residents were evacuated to temporary enclosures, including 250 animals that were stored safely in Key West’s city jail. And, amid the two back-to-back storms, the Humane Society of theUnited States has relocated 1,500 dogs and cats from the storm zones to various states, including as far away as New Jersey.

Individuals made amazing efforts to help animals. Betty Walter of Houston rounded up four of her own dogs, a handful of foster dogs awaiting adoption, as well as some friends’ and neighbors’ dogs into her care. As they awaited rescue, the group stowed away in her attic to avoid rising floodwaters. Walter even fashioned some makeshift stairs to get a 120-lb. Great Pyranees up to safety. The group was later evacuated by neighbors via a rescue boat. Read about Betty here.

Hurricane animal rescue


Perhaps the most famous, non-pet animal rescue so far, is of a hawk named Harvey. Harvey climbed into a taxicab to shelter from the storm — and a video of this went viral. Harvey is now being cared for by staff of the Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Centerhttps://www.twrcwildlifecenter.org/, who are assessing his injuries and believe he wouldn't have survived the storm without rescue. Watch the video featuring Harvey here. 

Harvey Rescue hawk
  

You Can Be a Savior, Too!

You can help storm victims and be a hero to those who are suffering the consequences of Harvey and Irma. Check out these organizations: 

Funds:







Volunteer:Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) is organizing volunteers for disaster relief.



Small gestures can make a huge difference to stressed evacuees. Share this with friends and families. Let the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma know that they are not forgotten!


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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Common questions and misconceptions about the SeaTREK experience



Kids can sea trek

SeaTREK is an amazing underwater adventure! Rated 5 stars on TripAdvisor for St. Maarten, Grand Cayman, and Lanzarote, Spain, SeaTREK helmet diving gives travelers the chance to walk underwater without any diving or swimming experience. It’s often rated a “bucket list” item for adventurers! From cruise ship passengers to aquarium visitors, SeaTREK is an attraction meant for just about everyone. In fact, since its inception in 1999, there have been nearly 3 million visitors to walk underwater via SeaTREK!

With any unique activity, there are many questions asked by potential participants. We have gathered some of these often asked questions and provided answers that will hopefully quell any misconceptions about TREKking, and answer important queries regarding everything from appropriate attire to safety concerns.

Q: What is the age limit/weight limit on SeaTREK?
A: Participants as young as 8 can SeaTREK! There is no weight limit.

Q: Do I have to know how to swim?
A: You do not need to know how to swim to TREK! Guests should be comfortable in the water, but no swimming skills are required.

Q: Does water get inside the helmet?
A: Water does not enter the helmet. You will not even get your hair wet!

Q: How deep is the water?
A: The depth varies by location. The deepest SeaTREK location operates at 30 feet (10 meters).

Q: Can I wear contact lenses or glasses?
A: Yes, you can wear prescription glasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses during the SeaTREK tour. You remain completely dry from the shoulders up.

sea trekkers have a visit with a turtle


Q: Are there sharks?
A: We cannot guarantee that there are no sharks in the ocean. We can tell you, however, is that the chances of seeing a shark are very rare! There is a wide variety of fish and sea life for you to observe.

Q: How heavy is the helmet?
A:  The SeaTREK helmet weighs approximately 70 lbs (32 Kgs) above water, while beneath the surface the weight is about 15 lbs (7 Kgs).

Q: How can I possibly hold a 70 lb. helmet on my head?
A: You will never feel the full weight of the helmet due to the way you enter the water. Most SeaTREK locations use a ladder to enter the water. As you climb down the ladder a surface attendant lowers the helmet onto your shoulders; the weight of helmet is not fully released until you are comfortably underwater. And once underwater, the helmet only weighs 15 lbs (7 kgs).

Q: How do you stay down on the ocean floor? Won’t I just float up to the top?
A: The weight of the helmet keeps you comfortably walking on the seafloor. As long as you remain walking upright, there’s no chance of floating up!

Q: Can you do Sea TREK while pregnant?
A: Unfortunately, no. We do not recommend you try SeaTREK if you are beyond the 1st trimester of pregnancy.

Q: Do I need water shoes to do my TREK?
A: No, you do not need to bring water shoes to your TREK. Some locations require that you wear special shoes, such as dive booties or Crocs, and they will provide them for you.

Q: Do I need a diver certification?
A: No. You do not need to know how to dive or have any certification to participate.



Q: Can I bring my own camera?
A: Most tours allow you to bring your own underwater camera! You won’t want to miss the opportunity to take a sea life selfie! Some tours provide a professional photographer that will take your pictures for you, and make them available for purchase after your tour.

Q: How do I find out if SeaTREK is available at my vacation destination?
A: Visit: http://www.sea-trek.com/where-to-go/ for a map of SeaTREK locations.


Do you have more questions about SeaTREK? Visit the website, Facebook or tripadvisor.com for more information.

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