By Boa Newgate
Puerto Rico – The island that is known for its natural beautiful atmosphere, rich culture and warm climates fell into what seems to be a nightmare that one can not be awoken from. Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria came by surprise and left Puerto Rican natives without homes, vegetation and loved ones in a matter of hours.
This will be a devastation that will be carried through many years and never forgotten.
With a heavy heart, Juliana, a Puerto Rican native and I headed to Puerto Rico. We were both representing our community and the Southeast Asian Coalition. We wanted to expand the understanding of humanity. We carried hope through out the whole journey, believing that no assistance was too small.
Rather than leaving our Puerto Rican friends and families in the dark, we decided to bring necessities such as flashlights and candles to those with no power. Also with the help from the Southeast Asian Coalition community and friends, we were able to fundraise and send out a shipping container filled with survival necessities such as food, water, cloth, batteries and more. We were so graciously humbled from the support back home.
When we got to Puerto Rico we were in complete shock. As we traveled night and day from town to town passing out flashlights and candles, we saw people waiting in line for hours to maintain gas. We were stuck by what seemed to be endless traffic all day.
We saw people traveling miles just to get drinking water!
We ran into people who hadn’t had running water in their home since the storm hit, which resulted in them having to shower in sewer water.
Aside from the locals of Puerto Rico suffering the terrible loss of their homes, the land will leave you just as shocked as it left us.
From the palm trees being completely bent and destroyed, to the amount of broken roads we had to dodge, everything was completely heartbreaking.
Hurricane Maria made its first landfall and hit the hardest in Humacao, located southeast of Puerto Rico. This is also Juliana’s hometown. The destruction was indescribable. The things we saw were so unreal. It felt like an apocalypse as we heard chainsaws – people trying to rebuild their homes during the day – and loud generators at night providing power.
As we traveled throughout the town helping, we only saw water trucks as support but not much help cleaning and rebuilding of the streets and homes.
The Puerto Rican natives need as much help as possible. We were able to provide a few of them with flashlights and candles as well as help bring water to a few homes. It was amazing to see how appreciative they were for the small help. Our help was received with gratitude and appreciation. They were thankful to hear that we will be trying our best back home to continue the support.
We’d like to thank those folks who supported us in our travel to Puerto Rico, but there’s more work and help needed. It will take years for Puerto Rico to recover, and we’re afraid that Puerto Rico will not be covered by the news agencies anymore – that people will forget that they are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and US citizens.
Although the tragedy that remains in Juliana’s homeland broke the spirits of many, it did not shake the love out of our hearts, and that is why we are encouraging anyone and everyone to respectfully help. Whether it be with food, clothes, money or something as simple as spreading this message, we can help Puerto Rico.
Here are ways that you can contribute: If you can, please help Worcester grassroots inner-city programs that are trying their absolute best to provide a safe place for people and prepare food to give to people who lost their homes. You can volunteer, donate goods, or provide funds: go to www.unitedwaycm.org and click on Amor para Puerto Rico.