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The Crisis in Puerto Rico Hits Home: My Home

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Puerto Rico, an island that is unincorporated by the U.S. and is located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, was impacted severely by two hurricanes over the course of two weeks, affecting each of its 3.4 million citizens.

Hurricane Irma, a category 5 hurricane, first sideswiped Puerto Rico in early September, leaving thousands of homes without power.

However, the most damage Puerto Rico received was from Hurricane Maria, which fully hit the island two weeks after Irma, on Sept. 20.

Maria was also a category 5, but since it hit the island head on, it caused an immense amount of damage, flooding countless homes, disabling communication, making travel extremely difficult, and injuring and killing  some.

With all of my distant family living in Puerto Rico, I was quite troubled  at not being able to communicate with them for weeks.

For a week, I lacked any knowledge regarding  my family members’ wellbeing. I did not know how severely the storm had impacted them, what their current living situation was, or if they were even alive.

It was an extremely distressing time for everyone in my family, but the circumstances were particularly difficult for my mother, who is  a sibling, aunt, niece and cousin to over 20 family members on the island.

Six days after Maria  hit, we were all ecstatic to finally hear from my mother’s sister, Rosa Garcia, through Facebook.

My aunt, who lives with her husband in Caimito, which is a municipality of  San Juan, had informed my family and me  that she was doing well compared to others.. Physically she was unscathed, and her house had not been flooded.

“The anticipation we all felt here was probably the scariest part,” Tia Rosa wrote. “We knew it was coming, and there was not a single thing we could do about it. We just had to accept, prepare and pray to God for our protection.”  

Although the condition of my aunt’s home and health were positive, she could not say the same about her neighbors and friends.

“The house across from me, which belongs to my neighbors of six  years, does not have a roof anymore. It has been completely ripped off by the high winds. It is devastating. They are taking shelter with us until further notice.” 

Supplies and food are also difficult to get a hold of. My aunt said that in order to receive diesel for her generator, she had to wait four hours in a line full of people who were waiting for the same thing. Also, there is  currently a lack of truck drivers throughout the island, meaning there is also a lack of transportation for  these items.

With respect to the generators that people and hospitals own, there is no power throughout Puerto Rico.

My family and I have sent many care packages to my aunt’s local post office, but she can’t retrieve them at the moment due to blocked-off roads, flooding, and lack of  transportation.

As of right now, there is no way of knowing at what point the circumstances in Puerto Rico will become positive.

Although my family and I are thrilled to have heard from my aunt, I still have many other relatives whose whereabouts and condition are unknown. 

There are many ways each of us can help Puerto Rico. One of them is to donate money in either small or large amounts to specific charities, such as United for Puerto Rico, UNICEF and Direct Relief.

My aunt’s story is  just one of millions playing out in Puerto Rico. The September hurricanes affected everyone there.

Puerto Rico is in critical condition. People are still being impacted. Everyone there needs help. Our help.

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1 Comment

One Response to “The Crisis in Puerto Rico Hits Home: My Home”

  1. Joyce Hinnefeld on October 19th, 2017 11:15 am

    Thank you for this powerful, and very important, update, Josiah. I feel that we aren’t discussing this fully enough on campus, and I appreciate your clear, concise effort to educate us all here, through both important factual information and moving family stories.

    Joyce Hinnefeld
    English Dept.

    [Reply]

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