Weathering the Storm: Hurricane Maria’s Devastation


A small cell from Hurricane Maria approaches the beaches of Puerto Rico. “My grandparents live in Puerto Rico alone and are stuck in a home that has no power… “They have received no help at all,” Noelia Pagano, junior, said. Luckily, her extended family was able to find a stable temporary home and their lives have begun to resume.

Zach Martin, Staff Writer

Due to the devastation of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico the past few weeks, thousands have been left without power, without clean water, and in extreme cases, without homes. Many of these people are in desperate need of helphelp that is currently very hard to attain. Because of this storm’s mass effect, it’s impact has branched out farther than just the people in Puerto Rico; it has reached students here at State High.

Lauren Mathews, senior, has many close relatives living on the island. “One of my aunts, my uncle, his wife, and two of my cousins [live there],” Mathews said. “My grandmother also lives in Puerto Rico, but thankfully she was staying with my aunt in New Hampshire while the hurricane hit. Our whole family is very close knit. We see each other as often as we can and keep in touch almost daily.” Due to heavy wind gusts and amounts of water, power lines were torn down leaving many, including Mathews, unable to communicate with their families. “My uncle had a hard time finding any signal. When we finally got in touch it would be only for a few seconds, only enough for them to say that they were okay. It took a few more days to get in touch with friends of the family and extended family in the west side of the island. It was agonizing not knowing if they were okay.” Luckily, minimal damage was done to her family’s property and belongings, but there is still a great lack of common necessities. Their house doesn’t have any water or electricity, and they have to wait in long lines to get gas and food. Rather than staying at home, Mathew’s relatives are staying at their uncle’s business in San Juan, where they have access to both water and electricity. Although the situation is getting better for her family, a relative’s health problem brought fright to the mind Mathews. “We were especially worried since one of my cousins has diabetes and we weren’t sure if she had enough insulin. Thankfully she does, which took some of the worry away, but we are still worried about the future,” Mathew’s said.

Noelia Pagano, junior, also has a number of loved ones situated in Puerto Rico. “I’m very close with them over there. It’s pretty hard on us right now considering communication is so limited,” Pagano said. “This has impacted me a lot because not knowing how my family is doing is very stressful and any call or text I get I’m hoping is from someone down there.” Power, water, and money are hard to come by for Pagano’s family at this point, which has been quite frustrating for her. “My grandparents live alone so they are stuck in a home that has no power, they just got running water yesterday, and my uncle owns a store in the mall so due to the storm and the mall being closed, he hasn’t been making any source of income,” Pagano said. “They have received no help at all.” Things have been especially tough for Pagano’s mother, as her entire family lives on the island. Before the hurricane, Mrs. Pagano would keep in touch with her Puerto Rican relatives daily. But because of the storm’s wreckage, communication has been made a weekly affair.

Pagano believes that Puerto Rico will take a long time to recover and that the situation in itself could be handled a little better. “I see this moving forward at a very slow pace,” Pagano said. “With everything that’s going on, Puerto Rico is not really being taken care of the way it should be.” As for Mathews, she is hopeful for the future. “I know it’s going to take a long time for Puerto Rico to recover. A lot of people whose houses were destroyed have already left the island. I only wish that all of Puerto Rico stands together in this crisis, and that they receive all they help they need.”