Today, September 19, 2018, sitting in the same chair and at the same time of September 19, 2017, an unforgettable day for every person living on the island of Puerto Rico, the day we prepared ourselves in the way we could to receive a visitor who we did not invite, a visitor who would leave footprints in each of our hearts, in each mind, in each human being, and in each family. A day that only spoke with the hammer, the nails and the radio as we awaited Maria, the visitor that nobody wanted to arrive. At nine o'clock at night we were left without light and without communication as we entered the uncertainty, of what will be happening? How close will it be? Will it have deviated? Are you, touching earth? How will the Islitas be? Will it have dropped to a lower category? Will it be delayed or will it pass quickly? How will our sisters, our families be? What are we going to fight against? What awaits us? What will become of those who do not have a house? These were questions that invaded my mind from September 19 at 9 pm. A terrible night without being able to sleep at all. Questions that had no answers and that clashed in my head at every moment
September 20, 2017
The memory of María is still present in each one of us ... It left a destructive footprint in terms of infrastructure, agriculture, fishing, but even more so, in the lives of all of us. It came through Yabucoa and continue walking without care for what was in front of it. It destroyed lives, houses, cars, pets, roads, all kinds of communication and continued to walk around the island especially in the center section. Hurricane Maria invaded the life of Puerto Rico. After almost 12 to 15 hours, it decided to move further and began touching the northern towns, It decided to stay for a good time in Arecibo leaving behind a devastating panorama. That day I felt the greatest impotence of my life and now what? Check the neighbors, try to open the way, try to find some type of communication.
The next day with my nephews I tried to discover how bad the situation was. Leaving the house was like entering another planet where everything had been burned and flooded, everything was lost, houses without roofs, valleys without trees, you could not get very far. We decided to go out into the street with tools to remove the things from the middle of the road to allow us to pass. There were people cooking for the workers. It was weeks and months of uncertainty, scarcity and darkness. When we finally found each other, we could not resist the urge to scream and cry with pain and joy. Pain for all that we were living through on the Island. The inhabitants had joy because they could see one of their own. Even if you could talk to a person or sisters outside the island, that would for a moment tear you away.
I admire the people of my Island, every inhabitant who stayed and lived this experience, whether Puerto Rican or not, I admire the ones who were out to the street to help the ones in need, I admire the one who stopped eating and drinking to give it to the other. I admire all those generous people from other countries who helped us. I admire all those who seek to unite for the same cause, SURVIVE. One year after this devastating Hurricane Maria, the memories come out and touch the fibers of my heart. My heart is still scared when I remember this experience. God is good. I LOVE MY ISLAND AND ITS PEOPLE.
The Sisters of Divine Providence in Puerto Rico tell you, thank you, thank you.
—Sister Elsa Medina Rivera