Communities in Puerto Rico Rebuild, One Day at a Time

by Fareeha Amir

Fareeha recently visited Puerto Rico with Islamic Relief USA following Hurricane Maria. Read her experience.

“We woke up and saw a different Puerto Rico,” said Tony, a man who lives in the mountains in Puerto Rico. He sits on the hammock in his trailer on top of the mountain recounting the wrath of Hurricane Maria, the Category 5 hurricane that devastated the island on September 20.

As we drove up the mountains where Tony lived, we saw the devastation evident everywhere we turned. The hurricane spared no part of the island. In the few days that we were in Puerto Rico, we saw the scope of the devastation of Hurricane Maria, even a month after the storm. While driving to different areas on the island, we saw countless uprooted trees, broken electric poles, damaged homes, flooded roads, broken bridges and so much more.

The locals referred to October 17 as “Day 27,” counting the days since the hurricane struck. Maria changed their world. The resort island that Puerto Rico once was, no longer existed.

The majority of people on the island are without power, and water is also very scarce. At 7 p.m., it looks as if it is midnight because street lamps are not working and homes don’t have light either. Neighborhoods are blanketed in an eerie darkness. Without these basic needs, people are not able to work and their livelihoods are halted. Yet the community comes together and helps one another. If one neighbor doesn’t have food, another neighbor will share their portion. This is the way of life in Puerto Rico; they help each other. Even without basic needs, people continue to live their lives, and restore their island one day at a time.