Puerto Rico Update : Tropical Storm Isaias

Aug 3, 2020 | Ministry Partners

Just to keep you all in the loop about Tropical Storm Isaias affecting Puerto Rico last Wednesday. Even though the eye-wall didn’t land on the island, it brought tropical storm rains and winds causing severe flooding. This has been the biggest storm after Hurricane Maria, so it brought many memories about that, regardless it was nothing compared to the hurricane in 2017.
I wanted to share these pictures taken by Puerto Rican photographer Eric Rojas, this past week after Tropical Storm Isaias hit. The photos were taken in the municipality of Loíza, in the northeastern coast of the island, around 30 minutes from our host site in San Juan. We’ve had PDA volunteers working at several houses in this town. 
What comes to your mind?
The caption in the second picture says: We are Puerto Rico, after Gaby’s picture (above) on his bike, he joined his friends who were fishing regardless of the situation in one of the streets after Rio Grande de Loíza flooded the community.  
Their smiles in the midst of flooding, gives me hope. 
Some additional numbers:
  • Over $250 million of lost in agriculture (Source El Nuevo Día)
    • 75% of plantain and banana plantations were gone (preliminary estimate is 10,000 plantain trees were lost)
    • Coffee growers were almost ready to harvest coffee planted right after Hurricane Maria hit. (Coffee harvest takes around 3 years) They are still in the damage assessment process around 21 coffee fields in the mountainous region of PR.
  • On July 30th (day after storm) there were over 120,000 homes without electricity. The Electric Authority Director assured the system was going to be restored by Sunday. (Source Primera Hora) [Update: By yesterday, 20,000 homes were still in the dark]
  • Lack of dredging of rivers and lakes has become a serious problem. It was published today that a river in the Mayagüez area- which was severely flooded- hasn’t been dredged in 50 years. (Source Noticel) Same happens with Carraízo River (main water source for the metropolitan area), where -few weeks ago- we had a drought because levels were down but the river still has a lot of sediments. 
All this is a reminder of how vulnerable our land is in terms of facing storms and hurricanes. I am in communication with all Disaster Recovery Coordinators and Host Site Coordinators to see how we can support the most affected areas. Will keep you all posted. 

Michelle Muñiz

Disaster Recovery Coordinator / Coordinadora de Recuperación de Desastres
Presbiterio de San Juan

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