2017 has been a tough year for the United States in terms of natural disasters. First, there was Hurricane Harvey, which ripped through Houston and other parts of Texas. Once Harvey tapered off, it was followed by Hurricane Irma, which wrecked most of Florida.
In the meantime, there were wildfires across Los Angeles, Washington, and other parts of the country. Just when it seemed like the natural disasters were finally beginning to abate, Hurricane Maria arrived in Puerto Rico.
This has arguably been the most destructive hurricane of the three. While Texas experienced massive flooding and Florida homes and buildings were ripped to pieces, the damage was contained to localized areas. The whole of Texas was not affected by Hurricane Harvey, just as the whole of Florida was not struck by Hurricane Irma.
Hurricane Maria, though, has blown through all of Puerto Rico, taking out all power and leaving residents unable to communicate with the outside world.
The storm was a brief one, blowing through in a span of about 24 hours. In that short time, it blasted Puerto Rico with 30+ inches of rain, leading to flooding. The strong winds, which at times exceeded forces of 155 miles per hour, ruined almost anything in their path, including homes, buildings, trees, and the island’s telecom system.
Although Hurricane Maria had a short stay, its aftereffects will be felt for much longer. More rain will pelt the island in the days after the storm, amounting to four more inches, perhaps even eight. This will make flooding throughout the island even worse, stranding people in their homes if they haven’t vacated before the hurricane.
From Saturday, 9/23 through Sunday 9/24, Ricardo Rossello, Puerto Rico’s governor, is barring residents from leaving their homes from the hours of 6 a.m. through 6 p.m. This is for their own wellbeing, as conditions will continue to be spotty in the days and weeks ahead.
Unfortunately, Hurricane Maria has claimed some lives. While residents have vacated, not everyone has decided to go. Those who stayed behind were risking their lives. Puerto Rico lost one of its residents, while in Guadeloupe there were two casualties. In Dominica, seven lives were lost. More residents may yet join the death toll.
A San Juan resident who chose to stay behind saw Hurricane Maria rip through his home personally. He was one of many who have lost their homes. “This is my apartment, the first time I’m coming inside. This is very sad,” he lamented.
Those who have already vacated won’t have much of a reason to return home, at least not for a while. Besides the monumental flooding, there is the issue of residents having no power. This leaves any survivors with no way to contact friends and family in the rest of the world and let them know they’re okay.
With a “collapsed” telecommunications system according to officials, residents may have to wait several months to have power again.
That said, the cleanup effort has already begun after the worst of this near Category 5 hurricane. Those who have stayed behind have congregated in sports arenas, shelters, ballrooms, and hotels throughout Puerto Rico.
Surprisingly, these survivors have an optimistic attitude, often singing together. They are bonded by this unique experience they have all endured.
President Donald Trump got on Twitter to send his message to those left behind in the mess and floodwaters, writing, “We are with you and the people of Puerto Rico. Stay safe!”
The victims of Hurricane Maria are going to have a long, arduous road ahead. It will take a lot of time and billions of dollars to start rebuilding Puerto Rico. If everyone gives just a little money towards that effort, the island will be functional sooner.
Every bit of money counts. Even a dollar can go far if enough people give. Those who are interested in donating should consider the following options. These are all approved charities where the majority of donated funds (if not the entirety of donated funds) will go towards the victims of Hurricane Maria and the rebuilding efforts.
Those charities are:
– AmeriCares Foundation, Inc.
– American RedCross
– Catholic Charities USA
– UNICEF USA
– Operations Blessing International
If you can’t give money, you can always volunteer your time or other resources. The residents of Puerto Rico will need food, water, clothes, toiletries, and much more. Whatever you can give is appreciated.
~ 1776 Christian