Just a small announcement

I will no longer be updating this site very frequently but we will be staying in Puerto Rico for the foreseeable future. If you have any questions or you need to reach out to someone on the island, you can reach me via email here and I will do my best to assist you.  All the best to you and yours, Karen

Planting the Seeds for Recovery in Puerto Rico

 

Full Article from CityandstateNY.com can be found here: Planting the seeds of recovery in Puerto Rico through reforestation, sustainable farming

Saving Puerto Rico with Seeds

Click photo to be taken to the article.

 

Before and After Maria Aerial Views

Puerto Ricans on the Heartbreak of Leaving Post-Maria: “I feel like I’m being kicked out of my home”

Click image to be taken to the story.

We. have. Power.

Well, to be honest, we’ve had it since the 27th but I’ve been busy enjoying it..well most of it. I didn’t particularly enjoy the two hours it took to de-mold the fridge. But those are first world problems compared to the hardest hit areas of the island.

As you might have guessed there was much celebrating when the power came back on. Many happy faces, many wooo-hoooooo’s, many windows shutting, ac’s turned on and yes, of course, the bars were PACKED. When I say packed I mean cars parked a mile down the road packed. We were too tired for that so we opted for a bottle of rum, 4 cans of cold cokes and freshly made ice. Anyhoo it’s been nice going from grumpy/depressed to having a smile on my face, post maria has taken a huge tole on all of us with thousands still suffering greatly without water or access to any kind of power.

Of course the first thing I did was clean the freezer, ice trays and make ice which has been non-existent and a currency greater than gold. Then I did the two loads of the laundry I had been saving up that week hoping the power would come back on. You see, for the past three weeks there have been reports from the local AEE crews power would come on ANY MINUTE. Of course it got to the point where we stopped believing as days came and went.

Apparently there was a big hurry to electrify this area for two reasons: the National Guard’s main point of contact is here and they just reserved an entire motel as a camp for FEMA workers. For those two reasons we have also lucked out recently in the provisions department. A couple of weeks ago, many small vendors congregated in front of the National Guard making it easy for us to walk 5 minutes for a cheap lunch and a cold drink. Since Steve had to work during the week in San Juan this was a weight off his mind (only one car was working at this point-both alternators died and we only had time to fix one) in case traffic got really bad. Traffic, btw, is always bad…almost two hours each way for what should have been a 45 min commute tops. Between non-powered traffic lights and kids going back to school, it was stop and stop traffic.

Here’s hoping the rest of the island isn’t too far behind, unfortunately it will most likely be months for the most remote and hardest hit areas. The last 5 weeks seem like a nightmare I just woke up from, I dreamed about post hurricane madness every single night, waking up several times a night drenched in sweat..stressing about water, food, gas, the car breaking down, potholes the size of kiddie pools, etc, it was unrelenting. Puerto Rico will need a while to heal from all this madness even after all power has been restored.

Puerto Rican Illustrator Rosa Colón on Her Ode to Leaving Home, ‘Goodbye for Now’

This is a amazing interview with Illustrator and co-owner of Soda Pop Comics here in Puerto Rico. Here they discuss the exodus of many brilliant and creative young professionals before and after hurricane Maria, a must read.

Read full article here

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Please Read, this is what Puerto Rico is facing.

112 Degrees With No Water: Puerto Rican Hospitals Battle Life And Death Daily

Private groups and individuals are flying out to Puerto Rico as I speak to help with the relief effort’s, there are some truly amazing people out there. I’ve been told there are 10,000 troops here already.

As of today we have yet to see any groups handing out water, food or supplies. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done it just means where we live, those items aren’t available to us or they are in a location not broadcasted.

We’ve gone out twice to FEMA locations that were reported on the radio and when we arrived there was no one. We still have to search for very long hours and stand in very long lines to purchase water IF it is available.

As I’ve said before we are one of the lucky ones in that we live close to the metro area and all the roads are cleared. So imagine how the remote areas are faring, it must be incredibly frustrating and feel hopeless.

If there’s one thing I would ask of those on the mainland, is to contact your Congressman, contact whomever you think would be able to help, tell them that we need more people here…we need many, many more people here helping.

Workers here are overextended, hospital staff/police/military are exhausted and overworked. We need people to replenish these workers so that they aren’t overextended.

Supplies are not getting to Puerto Rico residents as desperately needed, we need more truck drivers, we need more helicopters, we need more pilots, we just need more.

Thank you…

After Maria

I think it was around 3pm when things settled down in earnest after 9 long hours. Power had gone out the night before at 11pm. We never experienced the calm that an eye provides so we surmised we must have been on the edge of it. Although by all previous accounts we were in direct line with the path. By 4:30 everyone, including ourselves, had swept and mopped the few inches of water from our apartments outside.

A quick survey of the complex revealed most of the palm trees were uprooted, beheaded or snapped in half but most of the cars unscathed. A walk around the perimeter confirmed no one was seriously injured or needed assistance. Other than a half dozen units with blown out entrances (due to vacancy) damage was minimal. We were/are lucky.

Our next course of action was checking in on family members in Arecibo. Driving out of the complex, we were in for a sobering look at the devastation Maria had left. Scraggly barren trees set against a blank grey sky, Puerto Rico’s lush world of color was now in muted tones of destruction. With every block we got quieter, the only thought going through our minds was how would PR ever recover from this? We are sure the east coast thru San Juan received the brunt of Maria, how on earth are they doing? Who is going to help them? When?

In less than a mile we came upon our first impasse, a light pole across the road, we make a u-turn. Not two blocks from there, low hanging intertwined cables and unpredictable flooding blocks our path. Time to turn back, the return somehow seemed even more dismal.

We made rounds again with the neighbors, some we knew, some we had never met before. An elderly man was trying (and succeeding according to bystanders) to catch and kill the remaining pigeons with his bare hands. Not two hours ago we were anxiously listening to the doors rattle so hard you’d think they’d blow off their hinges and now this. Were also told by neighbors Marshall law is in effect, no traveling between 6pm-6am.

Did I mention there hasn’t been any sleeping? Either you are soaked in sweat or the generators are roaring at deafening decibels or your mind is whirring. Usually it’s a combo. You can’t eat because you’re too anxious, tired or hot.

Thursday morning I felt overwhelmingly bereft for a brief time. Looking out the window you can’t help but feel like a tiny desolate forgotten planet not knowing what’s happening. That quickly dissipated after our next ride out.

We grabbed some food and jumped into the car first thing the next morning. This time we made it to Arecibo but all roads leading to our families neighborhood were even more impassable than any we have seen. We had to turn back again. Like the day before, people were out in their rain gear attempting to chip away at the madness around them, not a dour face in sight. In fact, people were laughing, helping their neighbors, chasing their siblings around on the front lawn and generally getting the world moving again.

We learned from emergency broadcasts that Maria MIGHT have zig zagged through PR and exited around Aguadilla but no one really knows. I’m writing this Thursday night, still no contact with any family, worried about how worried they are. A man from Bayamon came on this evening saying there is cell service at Plaza Rio Hondo in Bayamon, we are headed out there at first light to make calls to family. If you are reading this, we have succeeded. We also learned that Carolina mall is gone, Plaza las Americas is flooded and worst of all, Levittown is completely under water, rescues were underway last we heard.

According to reports, there are also ships waiting out the remnants of the storm to arrive with food, water and generators for the entire island. Hopefully they are well on their way by now if not here. Planes with various aids should be arriving before them.

In addition, the Governor has stated “all bets are off” in regards to the promesa board. We’ll see. This is going to be one of the most pivotal moments in Puerto Rico history, it promises to be interesting either way. We’ll see once and for all what can truly be accomplished, no more band aids or short term remedies will suffice.