On September 20, 2017 my tiny corner of the Earth was hit by a devastating natural disaster. A category 5 hurricane that felt as if it was going to rip the land from under us and blow us away. And it did just that, throughout the island it ripped roads, trees, cars, and houses from where they stood. It raged on for what seemed like an eternity but was really just above the 24 hour mark; from the moment it touched ground until it finally left, it changed us and our little island forever.
I remember being completely unprepared for what was coming, I’d never lived through something like that. Storms and hurricanes are common occurrence here, but something of that magnitude and strength hadn’t been seen here in about 20 years. We as people, as a culture and as a country have changed a lot since then, and it has proven to be for the worse. As I reflected in Hurricane Survival,
“This isn’t the first time, your parents, grandparents, every ancestor dating back to the native tainos, they have all known the power of the hurricane. And now, so have you. Nature takes its own course, it listens to no one, no plea or cry may stop it. It follows its own rules, no matter how much you may have prepared it would have never been enough. Not for the mental toll this event has taken on you, not for what will be your life for months to come.”
I wrote Hurricane Survival as a project for a University course, but as I worked on it, it was almost cathartic. I’m sure many people felt the same way as me, coping with their experiences through writing. The way the wind howled and trees fell one after the other, the way the roof ripped itself away hitting everything in its path, the sound of metal clanking, destruction on every corner, the only thing to do was just wish you would be okay wherever you were, wondering and begging for the people you love to be okay as well.
And that was just the storm, the aftermath was worse for many people. No contact, no water, no electricity, floods everywhere, impassable and obstructed streets; no news of any kind. Families who couldn’t see each other, elderly alone in need of care, medical emergencies that couldn’t be aided. The infrastructure destroyed and the government failing its people, they still are.
But life goes on, we can only remember what we’ve been through and hope that in the future we can be better because of it. Hope that the system will be fixed somehow, that in the future people will be able to receive medical care, assistance and attention in times of need. Things may never be the same, but nature isn’t to blame, the country’s lack of preparedness, lack of real care and attention played a huge part. Ever since that day, there have been countless blatant injustices committed against our people. We have seen what we are in an emergency, my hope is that even if we have to go through this again, as a country we can be better for the people who need us.