It’s widely known what took place in Puerto Rico in September 20, 2017. The images of destruction and anguish have circulated widely in the media. But is not as known that after September 21, thousands of puertorricans, after the mediocre response of the local and federal governments, initiated by themselves reconstruction efforts.
Some volunteered distributing basic need items, ofter collected from neighbors or friends abroad. Others cooked for neighbors. Some lend an ear for those overwhelmed with what they experienced. In various parts of Puerto Rico, organically, volunteers gather to open blocked roads, cook, handed out water, or give emotional support to those in need. .
Social Media allowed for connection and coordination among volunteers. Groups evolved to achieved more effectivity. Help from those in Puerto Rico who were fortunate, from the puertorrican diaspora and from friends in the US proved essential. .
Hurricane Maria changed Puerto Rico, and for many of these volunteers this change included a change of consciousness, towards a greater appreciation of personal life and family, that now included neighbors and friends. .
Here are some of those volunteers. .
Anamaris Santiago Ramos. Ponce, Puerto Rico. “Y ese era el proceso: escuchar, no llorar frente a la gente, porque te daban ganas. Servirles de fortaleza, decirles que todo va a estar bien.” “That was our process: listen, not cry in front of people, because you did get teary. Give them strength, and tell them that everything will be ok.” 2.
Juan Carlos Torres. Utuado, Puerto Rico. “ Volver a lo que era la comunicación cara a cara. Porque uno está acostumbrado a la comunicación por teléfono, por ejemplo. Vecino con vecino, que bien pocas veces uno viene a verlo; pues, ya tu lo veías todo el día, o por lo menos una vez al día. Lo que, yo creo que la comunicación, fue una de las cosas que más uno aprendió” / “Go back to face to face communication. Because one is used to communication via phone, for example. Neighbor with neighbor, who one rarely sees; now, you saw them all day long. I believe communicating was one of the things I learned the most.”