Gaby Peña | Writer
September 30, 2022
On September 28, 2022, Hurricane Fiona passed through the small island of Puerto Rico, leaving behind many frustrated citizens. In the days leading up to it, residents of the island prepared their homes for the natural phenomenon to hit. The people already had experience with hurricanes; category 5 Hurricane Maria hit the island in 2017, destroying many homes and buildings. Since Fiona was only a category 1 hurricane, people were not anticipating the destruction that it would bring to the island.
As the hurricane approached, the strong winds and heavy rains caused the entire island to lose power. This also led to the water systems shutting down, and while many Puerto Ricans have back-up generators and water tanks for their homes, the majority of the people have neither, and therefore do not have access to electricity or running water. “We are lucky; we have a generator that we use all day to power fans, and a water reserve,” stated Adriana Nieves, a college student in Puerto Rico. “My friend has been showering with water bottles from the grocery store.” Because of the tropical, humid climate of Puerto Rico, people are having a tough time staying cool without electricity to power their fans and air conditioning.
In addition to power outages, the heavy rains brought by the hurricane have caused catastrophic flooding across the island. Puerto Rico is covered in rivers, and the rain has led to the rivers overflowing into towns, flooding the streets and damaging many structures. In my hometown of Añasco, the river flowed into the land, destroying vegetation and ruining many homes. Bridges and roads have been ripped apart, halting transportation across the island which is impeding peoples’ abilities to visit loved ones and get the resources they need. After Hurricane Maria, it took years for the government to fix the damaged structures, and some places still never made a recovery, so people are skeptical about how quickly Puerto Rico will recover from the damage.
Despite all of the natural problems that the hurricane brought to the island, what really angers the people is the corruption of the Puerto Rican government. During Hurricane Maria, my grandmother was in a hospital where the backup generator was damaged. Because of this, the air was not being filtered and she caught a virus. My family tried to get her off the island so she could receive the care she needed, but since the hospitals of Puerto Rico would lose money if we took her out of their care, they made it very difficult to let her leave. All of this combined ultimately led to her death.
With Hurricane Fiona, despite what the government has said about being better prepared, people have continued dying due to issues with generators. Patients are still being transferred to different hospitals because the generators stopped working. Houses are catching fire and people are dying because their generators broke. The government has all the money and resources needed to provide high-quality equipment for the people and buildings of Puerto Rico, yet they are withholding from the people, jeopardizing the safety of the island.
While there is a lot more the government could be doing to help, there are many organizations that are taking donations to help out Puerto Ricans in need. Some of these include the Hispanic Federation and Global Giving. “We should be doing whatever we can to help out the people,” stated senior Nora Thorlakson. Puerto Rico’s recover is going to be lengthy, but by raising awareness of the situation and providing support for the people, we can assist the island in its relief efforts and help prevent issues such as failed generators to terrorize the island again in the future.