During that first week after Maria I saw for the first time the ugly side of humanity, a Puerto Rico I never thought could possible. Looting was reported for the first time rememberable history. Through all the catastrophes we have faced as an island, never has looting been reported on such a vast scale as after Maria. It wasn’t part of what we defined our post-hurricane culture and most of us where horrified at the uptick in reports around the island. Continue reading “The Beginning of New Life”
It was dawn, 48 hrs after Maria had left her path of devastation. I cannot tell you the what day it was and neither the hour, we where separated from our civilized lives into one where days amounted to looking for food, water and fuel. We where thrown back into the stone age, surrounded by the vestiges of our former lives. The TV, air conditioning and showers where all obsolete pieces of furniture to remind us of how far we had fallen. The fridge was the only piece of the 21th century I could keep alive using a small generator, all else laid dead around a candlelit house. To get cell service, we had to go up onto a hill behind my neighborhood to try to get a few bars and receive text messages from abroad to inform us of what was happening. We laid hours next to the radio hearing, hoping, thirsty for news about our beloved reality, always hopeful it was better out there than we expected; it wasn’t.
Continue reading “Hurricane Maria: The First Steps”
The dreaded 20th of September was a minute to strike and like any new years, we knew it was the changing of an era. Of course, no one was paying attention to their watches, we where completely in the dark. There were no big celebration nor cheering. We all huddled into our own corner on our minds, waiting… wanting… anxious for daybreak to come. The hurricane had just ripped the only Doppler Radar off its base in Cayey in what would later be reported a gust of 220+mph and winds sustained at ~165.5 mph). Last I knew from the radar before loosing cell signal, the eye of the hurricane was coming up the PR-52 highway, towards my house. Thankfully, El Yunque in Nagüabo was blocking the strong wind bands of the hurricane coming from the eye-center. Around midnight the hurricane drew weaker (dropping to cat. 4) as the eye reformed, but it was also moving extremely slow, this caused it to take a full day to pass over Puerto Rico.
A week before Maria made landfall, the island was coming to grips with the reality of a cat. 5 hurricane that had zero probability of missing us; our worst nightmare was becoming a reality. During that week, the island sank into chaos as people rushed to buy supplies in preparation for the hurricane. You must remember that two weeks prior, people had bought-out stores in preparation for Hurricane Irma and then proceeded to donate said supplies to USVI afterwards. This left stores half-empty by the start of the emergency and people struggled getting supplies including chains, locks and other priority hardware used to protect the house.
During the two weeks between Irma and Maria I was able to get back on my feet. Electricity arrived on the 12th day and I got busy buying another whole-house generator since my 20year old one caught fire on day 3 of Irma. They said it would take about 2 months to arrive and I was Okay with that. Little did I know it would arrive a few days after I got electricity after Maria.