Puerto Rico is still in crisis. A slow uneven frustrating crisis. My family thankfully is fine. I read the news each morning and pray. I am thankful for all who are helping while knowing the help is not enough and the path will be long and hard.
We were able to fly Mami out almost 2 weeks ago now. She is getting comfortable in our house, adjusting slowly to the idea that she might be here longer than she expected, missing her friends and her routines but staying busy making all the arrangements she needs to make. She has written a couple of blog posts about her experiences during and immediately after Maria.
My father flew down to Puerto Rico last week. He made a quick survey of our properties and was soundly surprised at how well they fared. Our apartment in Maunabo (very close to where the storm came ashore) was remarkably unaffected. Some superficial damage, some lost furniture but nothing hard to replace or repair. Although my father had planned on staying for a few weeks he called me Saturday morning to update me on his findings and ask me for help on getting an earlier flight. He said the devastation was just overwhelming and the situation felt unstable. Although he was staying with friends at a house with a generator and water, he was not eager to stay longer. My father is a keen observer of the Puerto Rican economy. He is a long-time investor and former real-estate developer. He is very worried about how people will cope after businesses start failing in the coming months. He expects many will have to close due to lack of electricity, stock and customers. Many business in PR already were balanced on a knife's edge and this prolonged crisis will only further endanger them. He said if the government doesn't get a bailout soon, many of the first responders who have been working endless shifts will not be paid after the end of the month. What that would be like is hard to fathom considering how overtaxed they already are and how opportunistic crime gangs are already causing additional losses to a vulnerable population.
My cousin Michelle is keeping busy. She is freelance reporter and she has launched a YouTube channel where she is concentrating on providing English-speaking Puerto Rico residents with news about Maria. She is based out of the convention center and has been able to interview important officials including Lt.General Buchannan on the slow progress of the recovery process.
My cousin Virginia continues to gather supplies for her sisters and our extended family. She sent off yet another box yesterday. This time sending via Fed-ex because it has become harder to send supplies via airplane and none of the care packages sent by mail seem to be arriving at their destinations.
If you are reading this I urge you to call your reps. Please urge them to pass a generous redevelopment and reconstruction bill for Puerto Rico and USVI. Urge them to work on debt relief for the island. Don't forget PR, and welcome the many that will be arriving on the mainland.
and if you want to hear the names of all the towns of Puerto Rico sung to melody punctuated by the sound of coquis, listen to Lin Manuel Miranda's amazing new song. It touched my heart greatly.