It was on September 20, 2017 that Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, causing havoc on the island. Most of the homes and businesses were without power and water. It was not only the worst natural disaster to ever hit Puerto Rico, but also the third-costliest tropical cyclone on record with a total of roughly $100 billion in damages. Sadly, 499 people alone died in Puerto Rico.
Over winter break I was lucky enough to visit my friends and family who had suffered from the catastrophe months before. As I was there I was able to notice how the beautiful island was slowly recovering. Less than half of the island did not have power when I arrived—that is about 1.5 million people struggling to do their daily routines. The current U.S. administration did not help the island as much as expected, leading to many people leaving their homes in Puerto Rico. More than 140,000 have left since the storm, most of them heading to Orlando, searching for safety.
“As Commander in Chief and the face of our nation, I feel as though President Donald Trump’s efforts to bring attention and necessary supplies to Puerto Rican people have not been sufficient,” sophomore Fabiola Rivera said.
However, 22,000 troops and 33 ships had arrived after it hit and about 9000 remain. The recovery efforts have been speeding up lately, increasing the number of people that have electricity. Now most of the cities and major towns have power, although there are some neighborhoods in rural areas in the dark, especially those in the mountains who need it the most.
Nevertheless, the destruction caused by the hurricane has given the island a new chance to explore different ways of acquiring energy. Companies like Tesla and Sonnen are seizing the opportunity and are constructing solar power microgrids on the island. They claim that this new arrangement will create a more resilient system in anticipation of bigger storms.
Since I was on the island, I was able to see the actual damage cause by the hurricane. Puerto Rico seemed to be doing pretty well considering the fact that the hurricane was three months ago. However, there were some places that I remembered visiting as a kid that were destroyed. For example, a famous pier in the Northwestern side of the island was mostly underwater.
On the other hand, among the fallen trees and the homes without roofs, I noticed something interesting: even though there were not any traffic lights working, the drivers were patient. They were slowing down at intersections and letting people go when it was there turn. I witnessed no crashes and it seemed as if the people understood what the others were going through, and took the hurricane as a way to band together in a time of need. It was no longer other people to help Puerto Ricans, it was Puerto Ricans helping Puerto Ricans.