Home Since 1969…
Oscar and Lugui purchased their small home on a quiet street in Levittown, Puerto Rico in 1969 with a cashier’s check and a firm handshake to close the deal. In this house on Calle Lisa Oeste they have raised their children, grandchildren, and have lived a beautiful life filled with love, generosity, and community. If you have ever met them, even once, you know how truly special they are… Now, at 87 and 76 years old respectively, Oscar and Lugui have been displaced to New Jersey, and are anxious to get back to the home and neighborhood they have loved for most of their lives…
Oscar & his 3 kids, at the house - c.1974
Hurricane Maria, Then the Flood
When Hurricane Maria bared down on the island, we watched the weather maps in disbelief as the strongest parts of the storm whipped right over their neighborhood, located only 1/4 mile from the ocean. A day later, after the winds of the storm had past, we saw news videos of unexpected, catastrophic flooding in a suburb just outside of San Juan - in some pictures the water was 8' high up to the rooflines… We were shocked to see it was Levittown, Oscar and Lugui's neighborhood.
Tragically, the floodgates of a reservoir in the hills above town had been opened to prevent the breaching of a dam stressed by Maria’s rains. In a truly catastrophic and unprecedented event, the fast draining waters met a fast rising sea and overtook the streets of their neighborhood. They had been prepared for a hurricane, but not for a flood.
Phones were down, and we couldn't contact them for days. It was a horrible ordeal not knowing if they were safe. When we finally made contact we learned that they had been rescued by their neighbors, led to safety through chest-high brackish flood waters in the pitch-black night to the one house on the block that had a second story. There, they were able to take refuge alongside 10 of their neighbors while they waited for the waters to recede. Hearing their story was heartbreaking.
Levittown flood on 9/21/17 - Washington Post
In Levittown alone, 2000 people were rescued from the floods, many from rooftops, and 9 people lost their lives. The New York Times, The Washington Post, and numerous other news organizations reported on the situation in Levittown and the surrounding communities - here are some links:
"Water Came out of Nowhere.." - The New York Times
"Just the Beginning.." - Washington Post
With much hard work, and a little luck, on September 25th we were able to get Lugui and Oscar on one of the first commercial planes off the island. They have been living with their daughter Nan at her home in New Jersey since then, but now are longing to get back to their home, to help their neighbors, their community, and rebuild their life.
What Was Lost and How We Will Replace It…
The flood waters caused significant damage to Lugui and Oscar's home, rendering it uninhabitable without necessary repairs. The house itself is standing and structurally sound, but essentially everything 3' and below was lost… The kitchen and bathrooms were seriously damaged. Cabinets and doors have water damage and are beyond repair. All furnishings throughout the house will need replacing. The waterline on the walls means the interior and exterior of the house must all be repainted. Their car wasn't fancy, but it was destroyed and now they need something reliable to drive.
It is a long list, but very do-able with enough help.
We are asking for your help to get Oscar and Lugui back in their home of 50 years. If enough of us provide donations, it won't be hard to make their life livable again. When we reach our goal of $30,000 we will use local Puerto Rican resources - neighbors, family friends, and small local businesses in need of work - to fix everything in an affordable but comprehensive way. Your donation won't just help our one family, or these two important people, it will help a much larger community.
Thank you for considering to help our parents Oscar and Lugui. 2017 has been an impossibly challenging year for our family as it has been for so many others, but knowing we might able to get them back home safely would be an amazing way to start what we all believe will be a great 2018.
Nan, Dina, Oscar, Bob and Jimmy
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