The Twist of Fate known as Huracán María… 🌊

Oh God, here we go. Storytime, everybody… just an FYI, this is really triggering to write because thanks to this, my and my best friend’s mental health went to the toilet… So just a disclamer.

As I gaze outside my office window, I can’t help but be taken aback by a possible PTSD flashback from what would turn out to be a traumatic event in Puerto Rico’s history. I remember my sister, mother and I looking out onto the driveway through the opening of storm shutters we had built-in in the windows. It was early to mid-afternoon. It was still raining and we were just bored, laying around the house with no power or cell service. I remember seeing a stray dog walk onto our yard, but I couldn’t call the gated community’s guards to locate it’s the owner or open the front door to let the poor creature into my home thanks to the violent winds. All I could do was pray, as my soul cried for the safety of the poor doggy… They weren’t safe… None of us were…

So as you can tell, I live on the Carribean island of Puerto Rico, home to wrestlers like Carlos Colón, singers like Bad Bunny, Hotter-than-Hell beaches, El Yunque Rainforest, and Mofongo. I’ve lived here for over a decade, though I was born in the USA to Puerto Rican parents. So needless to say, Puerto Rico es mi casa. It’s my home. It’s where I live, study and where most of my family is. So, even though I don’t plan on living on this sunny island forever, the idea of a storm threatening my livelihood before finishing my bachelor’s degree was, and still is, pretty terrifying.

On the madrugada of September 20, 2017, we lost power at around 1:37am. I went into panic mode because I wasn’t mentally prepared for the power to go out so early. I has only been able to sleep a little bit. From that time, off and on, to about 4 am I was between sleeping and panicking thinking my storm windows were gonna open because of the violent winds. I was praying for the power to come back on, even if only just a little while but I wouldn’t see electricity flash in my house again until early December. I relaxed after I vividly remembered latching my storm window into the latch’s hole because I realized that no matter what, it was secure. So I went back to sleep happy as a BEE.

At around 6:30 am I woke up again to rain and howling wind. I decided to get up and make my bed, throw on my doc martins and check out the rest of the house. I went downstairs and my mom and sister were tucked inside the bathroom, on a doggy bed mattress, like we used to do when I was a kid in Indiana and they’d announce a tornado. They were listening to the battery radio while it poured rain. They seemed ok so I went back to sleep for a while until my mom sent my sister to wake me up.

I noticed in the staircase that there were towels on the floor because of water that was seeping in from the cracks of the decorative windows, that do not open. So that sight was a bit frightening. When I turn the corner of the staircase, I see my mother pushing our front door to keep it closed, while sobbing, with only the help of two dining room chairs and kettlebell weights helping her. Instead of going into a panic, I rolled my eyes and said: “You can’t hold a door when the winds are coming in that direction.” So I took a big chase lounge chair and pushed it against the door and pushed a loveseat to support it.

IMG_5101.JPG
DIY Barricade 

I looked at my sister, who was still sitting on the floor of the bathroom and said, this is no longer the safest place in the house because the winds are coming from the east. So I took my scared sister and sobbing mother to the second-floor hallway, where we camped out for a few hours.

 

After a while, we began to notice all the water that was coming into the house. Thru the front door, garage door, air conditioning, windows, even the tiny hole where the cable to the dish network enters into the house!! All of our towels were drenched with dirty hurricane water. Mom managed to keep three clean, one for each of us…

So the rest of the Hurricane we spent bored and scared. I took a lot of naps but was surprisingly calm during the entire storm. I was the one who took charge, when awake. I fed my family, I washed dishes with the little water left in the sink and protected them when panic mode kicked in. I was numb to my anxiety that day and thank God I was…

The next day, we see it. Our Island. It wasn’t home. It felt like a stranger… Everything looked burn… everything was a mess…. and we were stranded with no cell service… I couldn’t call my boyfriend to know if he was alright, I couldnt call my dad to say that I was alright and I couldnt know if my Grandparents were ok… It. Was. Torture… and the goverment was barely any help… Seriously, they didn’t even give me a water bottle

IMG_5121.JPGIMG_5143.JPGIMG_5108.JPGIMG_5195.JPGIMG_5216.JPG

Hurricane Maria was much more than a simple storm. It was a drastic and painful change to the life as we know it. After the dust had settled, I had to watch good people suffer.. and that breaks my little empathetic heart… But I learned that Puerto Ricans are strong people. When push comes to shove, we survive. I also leanred the importance of planning, preperation and organization. But what really impacted me was seeing all the community and support we all had for one another. We can truly be loving and kind people when the going gets tough.

But overall, what I learned is that Puerto Rico will never be the same… For Better and For Worse…

So that’s all for this post. I’m gonna go back to being creative, emo and bitter, while I breathe the polluted island air…

tenor.gif
Stay Safe!
🖤 PJ Cage

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s