October 7, 2022

The hurricane rages on poor communities in Puerto Rico

By Esther Alaejos |

Ponce (Puerto Rico) (EFE).- Rice and beans are some of the typical foods of the Puerto Rican diet that are distributed days later to the poorest and “forgotten” communities of the southern municipality of Ponce Hurricane Fiona shook the foundations of their fragile wooden houses.

Areas such as El Sol and Punta Diamante were isolated for the first few days due to the flooding caused by the hurricane, which severely hit the south of the island and in particular Ponce, prompting the National Guard to intervene to help.

“I’m surprised because we’re a forgotten community, like we don’t exist, and when these people come to help us, it even gives me a feeling, so people see that people live here,” said Viviana Ruiz, mother of three. and resident of the El Sol community.

About a dozen families in this Ponce community, which has been without electricity for years, lost their tin roofs to Hurricane Fiona.

Photo from this Wednesday showing a swollen river due to the passage of Hurricane Fiona in Ponce, Puerto Rico.  EFE/Thai Llorca
Photo showing a swollen river due to the passage of Hurricane Fiona in Ponce, Puerto Rico. EFE/Thai Llorca

Ruiz recalled that “the house shook.” “Here we were all crying because nothing like this had ever happened in a wooden house,” added the 40-year-old woman, who demanded that authorities provide electricity and water to “have a better quality of life”.

Another Ponceño from the El Sol community, Luis Antonio Sánchez, 55, who lives with his father, said he was “very nervous” during Fiona’s passage.

“I could see the zinc flying and that was very worrying,” Sánchez emphasized, referring to the precarious roofs of the houses in his neighborhood, unprepared for a hurricane.

Communities held incommunicado for three days

The Inabón River, which crosses the stately city of Ponce, has been flooded by heavy rainfall, leaving several isolated areas.

“Almost three days of isolation with these sectors and the rural part, where it had already rained before Hurricane Fiona,” said Ponce Mayor Luis M. Irizarry.

The floods also caused the three-day closure of Mercedita de Ponce airport, which only reopened yesterday, two days later than the rest of the island’s airports.

“After 72 hours of hard and intense work, Mercedita de Ponce Airport is opening its runway for the arrivals and departures of commercial flights,” announced the executive director of the Puerto Rico Ports Authority (APPR), Joel A. Pizá Batiz.

This is important because, according to Pizá, the runway is available to receive “any cargo flight or humanitarian aid to assist the emergency caused by Hurricane Fiona in the southern region of Puerto Rico.”

María Nieves Rodríguez and Leonel Torres watch from the door of their home after receiving supplies from the National Guard, in the Punta Diamante neighborhood of Ponce, Puerto Rico. EFE/Thai Llorca

In the communities of El Sol, Punta Diamante, Belgica and San Antón, some 6,000 boxes of food and water were distributed by 600 soldiers of the National Guard of Puerto Rico in collaboration with the Department of Family and the City Council, helping 200 families to the ravages of Fiona.

“There are a few boxes for a family of four on a balanced Puerto Rican-type diet, their rice, their beans for a week,” explained Puerto Rico’s adjutant general of the National Guard, Division General José J. Reyes. , out to Eef.

This house “can’t take it anymore”

In the communities of El Sol and Punta Diamante it can be seen that the passage of Fiona had a great impact, the wood with which the houses were built was expanded by the water that had fallen the previous days and in the streets were piles of fallen light.

José Rodríguez, a 45-year-old contractor living in Punta Diamante, did not hide his frustration at the situation that forced him to relive the vicissitudes of previous hurricanes such as George or María.

Puerto Rico has been hit by several hurricanes in its recent history. In 1998, Category 3 Georges hit the island, and in 2017, the devastating hurricane Mariareaching Category 5 caused about 3,000 deaths.

A woman observes a house destroyed by the passage of Hurricane Fiona this Wednesday in the Punta Diamante neighborhood of Ponce, EFE/Thai Llorca
A woman looks at a house destroyed by Hurricane Fiona in the Punta Diamante neighborhood of Ponce, EFE/Thai Llorca

“This house can’t take it anymore, it endures George, it endures María, now Fiona, I think another hurricane can’t take it, I’m not going to spend it here, if they say there’s another coming to it. I’m already out of this house», condemned Rodríguez, who lives with his wife, in between laughs.

The man said that with Fiona, whose maximum sustained wind was 140 kilometers per hour (85 miles), his house shook and he was “afraid”.

In addition to Ponce, the National Guard supplies supplies to the municipalities of Ceiba, Vega Baja, Toa Baja, Utuado, Arroyo, Maunabo and Comerío, which have been among the worst hit by the hurricane.

Web editor: Juan David Mosos

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