Wednesday, September 20, 2017.
This date will forever be burned into our collective memory. On this day, our small 100×35 mile island was ravaged by María, a category 5 hurricane that left ruin and devastation to anyone unlucky enough to cross paths with her. This savage force of nature entered our island at 6:15AM through Yabucoa, a small municipality at the southeast of Puerto Rico. At 2:00PM, María left through Camuy and Quebradillas, to the northwest, leaving our once lush island in shambles.
It has been 16 days since the storm. Finally, I’ve secured a decent enough internet connection to share with you the devastation I witnessed in the areas closest to me, as the day I was able to go out and document, most of the island was still inaccessible. The damage I witnessed was awestrucking, but please be aware that this is NOTHING compared to what some of the most remote areas suffered. People have lost their homes. People have lost their LIVES. Communication is spotty, at best. Most of us still can’t communicate properly with our family and loved ones. There is no power (and likely won’t for at least 6 months). Running water is slowly being restored, although, personally, I still lack service. For DAYS the lines for gas were incredibly long and slow, but thankfully they are once again as close to “normal” as they will be in a while. Wish I could say the same for ice and provisions… those lines are still unbearable.
And I once again, I remind you, I live relatively close to the metropolitan area. Anywhere else in the island is a bit worse.
As for me, María has turned me into a wishful person. I find myself wishing many wishes as I toss and turn every hot, sleepless night. I wish more people were getting help as quickly and efficiently as some areas did. I wish there weren’t so many egos and politics involved in the restoration process. I wish emergency supplies and medication were reaching the people that desperately need them in a timely manner. However, I mostly wish “the powers that be” were not turning this situation into a media shit-show that will indubitably be used as cheap fodder for political campaigns run by unscrupulous candidates who use the people’s pain for their own selfish gains.
I have no doubts that Puerto Rico will overcome the aftermath of María, as we have after Georges, Hortencia, Hugo, San Cipriano and many other powerful storms. Whether I find myself in my island or not, as there are many decisions that will have to be made for many different reasons, I know things will get better… after all, when you reach bottom, there is nowhere to go but up. However, I, perhaps in a sense of delusional optimism, truly hope this situation will bring a collective awakening of our people to choose better leaders. Hopefully people will remember who was present, who disappeared and who did nothing but manipulate the media for personal gain.
Ah, who am I kidding? We will never learn.
Photography: Wilfred Miranda /W. Miranda Photography
©2017 Wilfred Miranda / W. Miranda Photography. Please do not copy, crop or modify in any way. / No es permitido copiar, editar, alterar o recortar las imágenes sin autorización.