Life After Maria: Neris Family

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, family members of the Neris houshold started sharing information to locate our loved ones and assess the family's needs.  As this process I, Grandson of Francisca Neris Delgado, (Gabriel Wylder) was approached regarding relief efforts in Puerto Rico and more directly the Neris family.  Being a relative on the mainland (stateside) has made it very difficult to communicate with family members in Puerto Rico but not impossible and so many cousins have come together to share information we hear about our family - from Iowa City to Chicago to Columbus, OH to Philidelphia.  In the sharing of information about our family's wellbeing it became clear that we were blessed with the preservation of life, but had been devastated through physical structures - homes, cisterns, etc.

The following excerpts are real updates as information traveled through our family and what needs were beginning to surface in the aftermath of Maria - we believe the funds raised here will directly impact the following needs articulated here:

Thursday, September 21st
I spoke with my cousin this morning (Rio Piedras) and she said, "Well, the storm is gone. No power no water. Everything is destroyed. Nature everywhere." Bottom line - things are going to be bad for a while and I can't contact my family in San Lorenzo at this time. My Aunt, mom, and cousins that are state side are trying to get as much information as we can and trying to figure out how we can help. Roads are impassible with the debris, the government is helping Toa Baja and Bayamon since it is still raining and these communities are flooded. Please pray for the following: 1) That people come together and can be safely proactive for the communities that they live in 2) That communication can be restored so families know about their safety 3) That power and water service will be restore far sooner than the timeline of 4-6 months 4) That transportation becomes possible so necessary supplies can be gathered. Thank you.

Friday, September 22nd
My mother received a phone call from my aunt this morning at 3 am CST. My aunt was calling from Caguas and my family is healthy and well. She was reporting on how things are in San Lorenzo. There is a lot of damage: one of my aunt's lost the entire roof to her casita, another aunt had part of her roof blown off, my uncle had part of his roof blow off, my uncle lost his entire garage, my mom's house has not been assessed because the ground is too wet (it is still raining) and there is a tree blocking the way there, at least three of my family members have lost their cisterns that provided drinking water (they were blown away and they don't have drinking water at this time - they are using rain water for cleaning), the rest of my aunts and uncles live in concrete houses with concrete roofs so we believe they are fine, but only temporary cell service is possible (communication is very hard). As more information comes in I will update more. My aunt is in low spirits - she said the damage is so devastating people are extremely sad but are helping one another.

Saturday, September 23rd
My aunt Virginia called my mom this morning @ 3:28 am. The post office, banks, and ATM's are still closed. According to the radio news they hope these places will be open by this Monday, and that more people will be able to go to work since more streets will be clean. San Lorenzo is still without internet, power, or phone communication; my aunt is calling from Caguas. There is no TV, only one radio station works. The airport is still closed, hard ware stores are open with limited hours, grocery stores in Caguas are open with limited hours due to people looting and stealing. One of my cousin's has city water in her home and she has most cellphone access - she is closer to the metro area - this is also true for another cousin of mine who returned to his home yesterday as well as work in the metro area. Weather conditions for Puerto Rico continue to add to poor conditions and are compounding the difficulty with relief efforts - rain is expected to continue for the whole island. Communication between my family is not possible through phones. Information is not possible regarding relief efforts by the government or otherwise in Puerto Rico due to the communication issues. My aunt in Caguas can contact my mom in Chicago but can't contact her daughter in San Lorenzo. My mom still doesn't know the damage at to her house at this time due to the rain, mud slide, and debris blocking the entrance. Gas stations are open only a few hours. Generators are used only a few hours and gasoline supplies have not arrived yet. My aunt is in a better spirits today. Our family is doing fine - they have drinking water and food to eat. The ones without cisterns are using rainwater for cleaning. I have been told that the following sites have information about Puerto Rico (they are both in Spanish):
Vocero.com
Endi.com
People are being told they should stay in their homes so workers can clean the roads without being interrupted.

My brother and I have been approached by people that would like to help out our family through this very difficult catastrophe. We will be organizing a way to support relief efforts with the help of my family that is in Puerto Rico. If you are interested, more information should be coming soon. Thank you for all your prayers, thoughts, requests for information, and desire to help - they are very appreciated and humbling. God Bless you all!

Sunday, September 24th
My aunt Virginia called my mom this morning from Caguas at 6:15. Her eldest daughter (my cousin) returned to work and the roof is gone and the compressor is gone so she will be relocated to another office but it is unclear where or how soon - it is also unclear how this will impact her financially. Her father (my uncle) had a tree fall on his house and there is damage to an entire wall of his house. Hospitals are being overwhelmed at this time. There is no communication in San Lorenzo - my aunt has been communicating from Caguas where there is limited cell service.

My aunt was able to see my mom's house - she lost half of her roof (over her kitchen, bathroom, and dining area). My aunt was not able to get inside the house to see the damage to appliances and other things, so that is still unknown, but we know there was flooding inside. It's a cruel thing to only be able to watch and report - Lord have mercy.
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Organizer

Gabriel Wylder 
Organizer
Iowa City, IA
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