At 10:30 pm I tried as many phone numbers as I could in the community, and none in the upper part of town where the Collection is were working. But one in the lower part was. The news was not good. Our friends reported that Patricia had blown the roof off of their house and ruined all of their possessions.
After that, we haven't been able to get through to anyone in the area. Friends in the area who rode the storm out elsewhere have gone back to their houses and from their lack of communication we infer that they reached home. If they had turned back they would still be within reception.
The reports of "less damage than expected" probably just reflect the fact that the hurricane did not hit a large city, and the general bias of society against poor people. From the fragmentary reports I've been getting, far as I can tell, the damage to the humble communities near the Collection in the path of the hurricane was severe. Building materials are expensive, and it is hard to imagine how someone who makes his living growing bananas on a small scale-- never a very lucrative trade-- will be able to make a thousand dollars in repairs, especially when his entire crop of bananas are flattened to the ground.
Back in 2011, Hurricane Jova snapped the largest tree in the Collection, a big "iguanero" (Caesalpinia eriostachys), right in half. It has since resprouted. Moringas are tough. The rarest moringas in the botanic garden are mostly species with big tubers, so even if the aerial stems are damaged I suspect that they'll come back. The saplings of the tree species were probably heavily damaged. Fortunately, these will either resprout or, in most cases, I have duplicates in the shadehouse that I can replace them with. The M. hildebrandtii that I collected in Madagascar, and the M. concanensis that I collected in Tamil Nadu, though, are unique and I haven't propagated them yet. So those will be priorities. I suspect that the concanensis will resprout even if badly damaged, and I hope the hildebrandtii would too. Whatever the case, it's clear I need to get out there soon, but I think the Collection should come through despite the setback.
More worrisome is how the neighbors are doing, a lot of whom live in rickety houses. The one neighbor who reported losing his roof lived in a concrete house, albeit with corrugated asbestos roofing prone to flying away. A fair number of neighbors live in more precarious houses and with precarious livelihoods like agriculture and fishing. I suspect that the "less damage than expected" is sounding pretty hollow to them right now. Let's not forget about them.