In September 20, 2017 Puerto Ricans had an unexpected and unwanted visit of Hurricane María. Only hearing this name gives me creeps. Now every time you tell a story, you have to establish if it was prior or post Maria.
First of all, there was no way to prepare for this kind of nature’s fury. There is no record of a humongous category 5 hurricane in Puerto Rican soil. We were in front of something that has never happened before.
Depending in what part of the island you were, there were winds up to nearly 200mph recorded. It was so monumental that at one point the entire island was being demolished by this monster. There is no way to explain the power of this event. For more than 12 hours, we received the impact of tropical storm to category 5 hurricane winds.
At one instance I noticed a sudden calm and went outside. All the trees where dry like some kind of bomb exploded. After several minutes, the winds started hitting again. I went inside of my apartment, nearly crying. Everything was gone. I knew then that this was a complete disaster, that the aftermath of this event will take years to recover. If we can recover from this at all.
Everything was down. If there is no power, there are no communications. If there is no power, most of our water supplies won’t work. If there is no power, most of the gas stations couldn’t open. If there is no power or communications, ATM machines won’t work. Because of the lack of communications, CASH was our only buying option. In the world that we live, we are 100% dependent of power and communications.
Because of desperation, there were lots of looting and robberies. Power generators and copper was the most stolen item. With this in mind, it was more complicated to reestablish communications and power generation. Having access to a power generator in this period of time was the only way to decrease the level of desperation. When you combine so many generators and cars, the result are long lines in a gas stations. Lots of hours in a line to get only $20 dollars’ worth of gas. Most of the gas stations distributed their service in two main outlets: gas for cars and gas for generators.
In this kind of events, we understand what are we made of. We start knowing who is who? I was able to get to know some of my neighbors and we developed some kind of team. Most people in this situation start helping each other and making the best of the worst…
With this in mind, personally I didn’t have much time to document this event. My main goal was my family and my job. Bringing food, batteries, gas and being able to work to make a living.
I took random pictures of the events during those firsts weeks.
Hope you see a fraction of what really happened…