On 20th September 2017 Puerto Rico kept its breath while the hurricane was hammering the island. Fear, anxiety, anger, hope, faith, all mixed up for all the Portoricans, the time stopped in a big Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean, and it was particularly strong here in Puerto Rico. It was a category 5 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, It is considered one of the worst disasters which affected the island, causing an estimated number of deaths close to 3000 according with the NY Times but the number could be higher – up to 4600 – if we consider a research published last May by Harvard Center for Health and Human Rights.
As I did not take the opportunity to speak about the hurricane Maria, because we were all involved in the organization of the annual meeting I will take it now. Let me clearly tell you that that was devasting in the descriptions of both Red Cross Colleagues who worked in the aftermath of the emergency, and also of anyone else I had the chance to speak with on this matter.
Most of Puerto Rico has been without access to water and electricity for a preiod of time that span from 1 to 9 months. Their daily life was completely changed, not being able to access to good quality food – as the local vegetation was destroyed and it took some months to grow back – to do infinite cue to get access to fuel, to receive water, not having access to cash money as al the ATM were not functioning… and most of the people have lost a beloved one, if not a friend or a pet.
The event was life changing as many shops had to close, having as conseguence people losign their job, and forced to leave the island to find a another one in USA, mainly in Florida.
At the end of September there was a small celebration at the American Red Cross to remember all the people that died because of Maria. That was really touching for me and I felt they have been going through a lot of pain. What a priviledge to work with people keeping always their smile while having passed this! I feel lucky.