1,915 miles away, yet so many people all over the world are still being affected by the natural disaster known as Hurricane Maria. This category four hurricane has and continues to take away homes, families, and the basic necessities that people need to survive.
Puerto Rico still does not have 85% of its electricity according to CNN. Spanish teacher Michael Gonzalez stated that due to the loss of electricity, staying in touch with his family and friends is nearly impossible. Gonzalez’s sister and majority of his family live in Puerto Rico.
“Communication was the hardest thing for sure. Not only that it was worrisome for my family, we knew it would be hard for my family there to contact people they needed to contact,” Gonzalez said.
Not only was communication isolated in Puerto Rico, so was the relief given to the citizens there. People in Puerto Rico continue to have an ongoing struggle of survival.
“Everything that is going on right now is really bad, and we are not doing enough. We are just pushing everything under the rug, thinking it will go away on its own. That is something we really need to work at as a country,” junior Kaitlin Phillips said.
Due to Hurricane Maria, the island’s water system has been cut off for half of the population. CNN stated that 35% of the residents do not even have clean drinking water.
For those who do have safe drinking water, many do not have access to water for bathing and showering, cleaning their clothes, and other everyday uses of water.
Even with the many organizations trying to help, many Puerto Ricans are still suffering. Water from a well at a hazardous waste site, thought to be contaminated with industrial chemicals, was distributed by AAA. Recently, the water was tested and deemed safe to drink according to CNN.
“They need more help. I feel like our government could be doing a little more. I am not going to argue with what they are doing, because they are doing great stuff. The volunteers and the American people are doing a really good job of volunteering their time to help Puerto Rico,” sophomore Luca Serrano said.
Serrano and his family are planning to travel to Puerto Rico for a week to help with all the damage that Hurricane Maria has caused.
Serrano’s grandmother and aunt who live in Florida own houses in Puerto Rico. They both visit the island regularly, and were there during the time of Hurricane Maria.
“For a while I didn’t know if my grandma was okay, because we lost all communication. So the hardest part was not knowing what was going on with her personally and with her house,” Serrano said.
Homes and buildings are ruined, and many Puerto Ricans that left the island before the hurricane hit do not know the damage done to their property yet.
“I am honestly nervous to see the devastation. Puerto Rico is where I’ve made memories as a child. I am nervous to see what is going on over there, especially if something has happened to my grandma’s house or her farm,” Serrano said.
Going to Puerto Rico is not the only way to help, there are plenty of ways to help the cause locally.
The Spanish Club is holding a Penny War Fundraiser in which all resource classes will compete to raise funds for a donation to the UNIDOS Disaster Relief and Recovery Program. This program aims to help the citizens and the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The Spanish Club hopes to raise $5,000 for the fundraiser by Nov. 8.
Gonzalez is also planning to visit Puerto Rico to help the cause.
The Spanish department is collecting items ranging from food to cleaning supplies for Gonzalez to take while on his trip. Students interested in donating can bring their donations to room D108.
The hurricane hit the island on Sept. 20. Many U.S. citizens felt like the government was not helping fast enough, or enough at all.
“I think help is starting to pick up now. In the beginning initially, it was definitely, lagging a little bit on going out there to respond, but at the same time I do not know how difficult it could have been for responders to do what they have to do,” Gonzalez said.
Plans and routines are changing due to this natural disaster. For people in Crown Point, and especially for people living in Puerto Rico.
The Spanish Department decided to go to Puerto Rico for the annual school trip for upcoming next school year, but now that is no longer the case.
“Yes, we had to pull away from that and choose another place for now. It is really not ready to bring people there. It is a sensitive subject for us to go there and vacation while people are trying to rebuild their lives. There are more reasons than Puerto Rico just not being ready for us to visit, but we have to give them that time of rebuilding,” Gonzalez said.
Puerto Rico is going through a time of fixing and rebuilding itself. The electricity is hoped to be fixed in Dec., many are still at- tempting to rebuild what has been damaged.
“Buildings can be rebuilt within two years,” Gonzalez said. “Rebuilding people’s lives, there is no telling how long that will take.”