Do We Love Our Neighbors, As Ourselves?
This photo of the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, hugging a suffering abuelita, tore at my heart. Can you imagine what it must be like for grandmoms in Puerto Rico right now? These women are caretakers of hundreds of thousands of children, and many need full-time care themselves.
What can we do to help our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico? The immediate needs are enormous…NY Times journalists give us a 24-hour slice of life on the devastated island and report on the ‘Hay que echar pa’ lante’ attitude they found – an expression of resilience, translated as ‘Gotta move forward’.
So let us be GRANDparents for Puerto Rico! But how best to help? Much of what comes naturally is counter-productive. Sending supplies can actually hurt relief efforts. Giving money by text can slow payment….who knew? And what about the scammers?
Disaster relief experts share their experience here and more tips are here. This is an urgent crisis and it’s all hands on deck, but I hope we will have this beautiful American island in our hearts a year from now when the reporters have moved on.
“To love our neighbor as ourselves is such a truth for regulating human society, that by that alone one might determine all the cases in social morality.“
After Hurricane Maria
The sun rose Wednesday morning in the low mountains of north-central Puerto Rico, near the town of Corozal, to reveal the world that Hurricane Maria has made: shattered trees, traffic lights dangling precipitously from broken poles, and, here on the face of a weedy hill, a gushing spring, one of the few places where people from miles around could find fresh water.
At 6 a.m., about a dozen trucks and cars had parked nearby. People brought rain barrels, buckets, orange juice bottles.
Some men clambered up the steep face of the hill, placing plastic pipes or old pieces of gutter underneath the running spring, directing the water into massive plastic tanks, then hauling them away. Others crouched at a spot where the water trickled down to the pavement. Jorge Díaz Rivera, 61, was there with 11 Clorox bottles. He lives in a community a few minutes’ drive away where there is no water, no food, and no help. The National Guard helicopters have been passing overhead, and sometimes he and his neighbors yell at them, pleading for water. But so far he has seen no help.
“They have forgotten about us,” he said.
Puerto Rico has not been forgotten, but more than a week after Hurricane Maria hit, it’s a woozy empire of wreckage; of waiting in line for food, water and gas and then finding another line to wait in some more. A team of New York Times reporters and photographers spent 24 hours — from dawn Wednesday to scorching afternoon heat, to a long uneasy night and Thursday morning without power — with people trying to survive the catastrophe that Hurricane Maria left behind.