In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rican citizens are in need of any kind of help people can offer after losing basic resources.
“We are facing a humanitarian crisis, we don’t have enough medicine, food, gas, or water,” explained Gretchen Garcia, a senior at the University of Puerto Rico, in a phone interview. “If you want to gas up your car or your generator you have to wait in a line for six to 10 hours; some have even waited 11 hours to get gas. Same goes with buying groceries or water.”
Garcia recounted her night in Hurricane Maria, “I was scared, all I could hear were things banging, things falling, crazy winds, and a lot of rain. On top of that, not knowing how your friends and family are–it’s the worst. I just wanted it to be over. It felt like the hurricane lasted a week.”
Hector Morales, executive chef at the Polynesian Cultural Center and native Puerto Rican, explained he didn’t know whether members of his family were dead or alive for days after Maria hit.
Morales explained how the storm destroyed the Islands power system, cutting the power to cell phone towers, preventing his family from contacting him. “They have nothing, no running water or electricity. And to make it worse the police aren’t out, leaving the bandits to run the streets.”
Morales described how the destruction of his birth place has left Puerto Rico almost unrecognizable. “Back when I worked in Puerto Rico, I worked at the ‘El Conquistador,’ a huge resort on the east side of the island, which now lays surrounded by a flattened forest.”
Madelyn Giron, a junior majoring in communications from the Dominican Republic, has family in Puerto Rico. She said, “It’s ironic that I can just go to the Seasider and get food because I’m hungry, while there are people out there right now like my aunt and grandfather who are struggling just to get water and food.”
Giron said her family described the metropolis of San Juan as desolate. “They are living by the merits and grace of God right now.”
While Giron said she appreciates everyone’s desire to help, she explained the importance of realizing the real gravity of the situation–while people might raise money and gather food, it’s a logistical nightmare to get the much-needed supplies to those in Puerto Rico in a timely manner.
Garcia also shared ways Laie could help. She said, “We need water, batteries, fans, canned food, flashlights, batteries, etc. Really whatever they can give to help is appreciated. Now more than ever we need to be united.”
“Send prayers to Puerto Rico,” said Morales as he considered how Laie could help Puerto Rico.