Peoples own words reveal they each experienced Hurricane Maria in different ways, with some upsides amid the calamity
For every life it affected, Hurricane Maria created a story. Most of those stories, however, remain untold. During the medias coverage of the disaster, we got so fixated on which houses broke and which trees fell that we sometimes overlooked those who lived in the houses and those who planted the trees. For the most part we forgot to actually ask those who lived through the storm what they had been through.
Six months after Hurricane Maria, I decided to go to Puerto Rico and ask people about their experiences. Instead of having their stories written about by an outsider, however, I wanted to give Puerto Ricans the opportunity to tell their stories for themselves. I gave them newspapers and asked them to write their own words over the ones that had been written about them.
I used to believe that disasters were black and white, and that everyone experienced them the same way. I was wrong. In Puerto Rico I met dreamers who believed tragedy could drive positive change. I met people in different stages of anger, some still battling, some learning to let go. I met those who had recently gotten back on their feet, and some who had never fallen off. I came to understand that the only commonality was that Maria provoked something for everyone. Everyone was affected one way or another; each person felt something unique, and I was lucky enough that some shared those feelings with me.
Isha worked at the rental shop where we got our car. The hurricane happened the day she was supposed to start. She talked of her grandfather, who had lost electricity and now washed his clothes in the river. When I asked her to write one of her stories down, however, Isha instead of writing something personal wrote about Puerto Rico in general, about the changes that Maria brought. She said a sense of community formed among Puerto Ricans that hadnt previously existed. Suddenly her words changed from I to us and just like that she became a voice for a larger group.
If you enjoyed our content, we'd really appreciate some "love" with a share or two.
And ... Don't forget to have fun!