There’s a lot of loss down here. A lot of people just making do and trying to get through another day. I’m going to share a few experiences.
Here in Barranquitas–I didn’t know this until yesterday when I was talking with one of the drivers–the eye of the storm passed through here. That’s right, Maria’s 155 mph winds drove across one of the highest municipalities in Puerto Rico. There are impacts we don’t think about, such as the destruction of their plantain (banana) crops. And I know rain is freshwater, but I heard from one person that the rain was partly salty water. That would be just awful for the land. Either way, Puerto Rico lost 80% of the economic value of its crops.
I’d like to share the totality of destruction that has occurred for some people. If you drive around a little bit in Barranquitas, you can’t get too far without seeing something like this:
The picture speaks for itself. Many months later there are many roads and bridges that remain washed out, traffic detoured through all sorts of secondary routes and thin, windy, highland passways. It makes for a lot of traffic and dangerous driving throughout the island. I can go into more detail on the state of driving in a later post.
Something that isn’t immediately obvious from this set of pictures: this isn’t just a washed out road. Yeah. Someone’s house was washed out and gone. Like, gone gone. Wherever it was–either under the landslide or down the washout–it wasn’t here. So, that’s a family with no home and nowhere to rebuild.
Here’s another site.
You can see here in the first photo there’s been a bit of a land slide. Yellow house still standing. Closer inspection (second picture) reveals the victim: a second house that wasn’t so lucky.
The locals explain to me that a big part of the problem is that they’ve never seen so much rainfall. Even by hurricane standards, Maria dropped much more rainfall than Puerto Rico typically gets. And now, six months later, I guess they’re supposed to be in some kind of dry season and each day is partly cloudy with periods of rain. They don’t know where all the water is coming from.
I’ve got one more story that was shared in the after-work meeting this evening. It’s a story about a woman with a home that was hit bad by the storm. She applied for assistance from All Hands and Hearts and was declined because we can’t rebuild the structural part of roofs. We just put on metal roofing on an already existing structure. She is currently living with family and she has terminal cancer and on top of that she’s had two family members commit suicide since the disaster. Just a terrible story; I was thinking, “are you kidding me?” Nope. And no one knows where government aid is. (I know the USA sent aid, but it’s got a lot of gaps and if people got angry about that with their politicians, maybe something would change. But as we all know, Congress…yeah, is busy being Congress.) I’m sorry, no one should be left on the side of the road like that.
So, total turn-around story: this woman’s neighbors got together and build her the structural frame of a roof and now we’re able to accept her into the program and put a new roof on her house. Probably, she’ll need a cleanout and mold decontamination, but it’s great that were’ able to (finally) help this woman–someone obviously so deserving.
I think it says so much about how much these folks are struggling, how much they are fighting, and it’s great to see them come together to help a neighbor in need. There is already so much loss. Together is better.
For those of you who have already donated at my fundraising page, thank you so much. I appreciate it, and I can tell you with each smiling homeowner how greatful the recipients of your charity are. One uplifted life at a time!