I really can't quite put into words my experience of Hurricane Maria and her path of destruction across Puerto Rico. I am humbled. I am stronger. I have been tested. I have cried, smiled, laughed harder than I ever have, broken down, soared high. In my low moments, I have built myself back up through the support of my loved ones--through our community and our island.
The people here are amazing, and I cannot express the pride that surges through me to be apart of such a place. Puerto Rico is such a strong island, and such a strong sense of community that brings tears to my eyes. We had driveable roads not even a day after the hurricane only because people of the community donating their time, energy, gas, tools, to clear the roads when our own municipality wasn't.
I am learning a new way of life - a new reality. Now 2 weeks post hurricane, there still is no water (the biggest hardship and the scariest), no electricity, no gas, intermittent communications (which is a recent development).
The most simple of amenities, the conveniences people forget about--turning your sink faucet on to wash your hands or wash your face or even brush your teeth, washing your hair not by rain water and a bucket, being able to pop into the grocery store to pick up fresh food, pulling up to a gas station and filling up without a second thought. Countless other small things we all take for granted--they are not available. You cannot purchase potable water, you sit in line for endless hours for gas that might never come, you can't text or call for help if you need it; the daily life that I used to know has completely shifted. It's eye opening and extremely humbling.
I am optimistic and full of hope. My community is resilient, and many of us extremely lucky and many who have lost everything. We still give all that we have. As I walked out of my house the morning after--and even before I knew the utter devastation across the whole island--I was thankful to be alive. And once I learned what tore through our island, I wept with happiness that I still have a roof over my head.
But watching as my mother looks over the home she has built over 40 years, stripped back down to its bare structures, has been heart-wrenching. I want to bring our home back, and I want to build back my home--my family's home, our businesses, and our town.
I am not often one to admit this, but I need help. I am facing loss or potentially no income for the foreseeable future and face daily struggles. I am wanting to develop longer term solutions, to fit my water pump with a solar panel so that I can have some normalcy in my life with running water, to set up a better rain catchment system, and so that my family and I can survive--to weather the storm, so to speak.
I put sugar water out for the bees, and I listen to the birds, the coquis still singing at night. Life is beginning to blossom again. Puerto Rico is in rebirth. This is my home, my birthplace, and I know we will rebuild and stan
d together--but I am also realistic, and I know I need help to do so.
I want to open my doors again and welcome people to experience the beauty, the strength, and the love of Puerto Rico--of Rincón.
Any extra funds will be dispersed to those in my area that are also in need. I am also trying to receive supplies to distribute as well. I know there are conflicting reports about relief and aid but it's all politics and everything that comes with it--I have only seen Puerto Ric
o strong, Caribbean strong, coming together to bring all of us back. All of us ne
ed help, and I admit that I do too.
Thank you all so much.
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