Life still in limbo- post Maria

We returned to Puerto Rico last Sunday. I had a cacophony of emotions knowing that the Puerto Rico I’ve lived in for three years wouldn’t be the one I was returning to. How much was back to normal (would it ever be normal again?). How full were the grocery stores? (I shipped myself peanut butter from Wisconsin). Was our house moldy? Was the mood somber, desperate, disillusionly hopeful, or still in post-traumatic shock?

But mostly I felt excitement to be back home and to re-establish a routine. So what did I find on my adopted island?

A much better place than when we left! The drive from the airport showed many blue tarps sprinkled throughout the small towns bearing witness to the many roofs that suffered damage. (why are all tarps blue???)

We didn’t see anyone loitering around the side of the freeway in search of cellular signal, nor crowds gathering around natural springs collecting water. Signs of improvement.

The most telling drive was up the mountain to and from school.  Most of it looked pretty much the same.  All roads were cleared and accessible, even our creative routes through the valleys.   We could see broader vistas due to fallen trees, but here are some photos from the more notable things we saw:

Landslide in someone’s yard. Later that day a cement mixer was building a wall there

We passed several work crews cleaning up debris along the road. Notice the fallen electrical transformer. These are everywhere.

We saw dozens of broken poles like this, and many more leaning over.

In my neighborhood, the trees that fell and were cut were already showing signs of regrowth.

They were cleaning debris and there was a water company truck nearby.

We had to renew Trevor’s club membership. I noticed they had a lantern by the desk. Just in case 😉

Just drive around it. Obviously everyone has for weeks.

I have to drive over downed wires crossing the road 4-5 times on the way to school.


Sign on the right “Improving day by day” Sign on left “Merchandise in transit”

I couldn’t find heavy whipping cream or cottage cheese in three different stores, but thankfully I think I’ll have everything I need for Thanksgiving next week.

I assume this area doesn’t have power yet…

These poor people have had an electrical pole leaning on their house for 8 weeks.

New roof! See the destruction in a photo in the middle of this post:

Not far from our house the city has decided to make a dump. Mattresses, old appliances, and broken wood now claim a corner by this four way stop sign.

I sure hope this unsightly dump is temporary. There’s a ton more than you can’t see here.

Slowly life returns to normal.  I’d say maybe half of Mayaguez has power now. The kid’s school is running on a generator for one building and I believe simply going without power in the building for the older kids. (Good thing Montessori is low tech!)

This AEE employee gave me the peace sign as I passed. Putting up new poles

Oh and AT&T sucks.  SUCKS!!! Claro, the Mexican based cell company, has rocked. They were up and running here first. Apparently T-Mobile is also working everywhere too. Well, we have AT&T, and thankfully at least the companies have somehow opened access to any tower and when we don’t have AT&T access (all the time) my phone now mysteriously connects to Claro. But that’s only for making phone calls and local texts. No internet on the phone. I can call out of the area when I’m at home. But not 800 numbers. Those just hang up.  So weird.

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5 Responses to Life still in limbo- post Maria

  1. Kay West says:

    Sad to see so much damage, but good to see that progress is being made. I bet the kids are happy to be home and back in school with their friends. The blue tarps are made here in South Dakota at Raven Industries. They have a plastic films division that makes everything from blue tarps to film for scientific Balloons. Mark retired from Raven 3 years ago and still consults on a few projects like Project Loon that has been in the air over Puerto Rico in an attempt to provide internet service for AT&T from balloons flying at 80,000 feet. The program is basically in its infancy so any service provided was purely experimental. I’d be interested to know if it worked and how much. Raven also built the hot air balloon you flew in and if your satellite continues to work, you and the kids might enjoy the Macy’s parade on Thanksgiving where almost all of the parade balloons were built by Raven as well. Who knew that our meeting in NM would have so many connections. ?

    • Laura says:

      I love learning stuff like this! So….why are they BLUE? haha
      And….can you get us tickets for the Macy’s parade next year? lol

      • Kay West says:

        The blue color has to do with FEMA and Samaritan’s Purse. It is also easy to identify which homes have been taken care of and which haven’t.

        As far as Macy’s goes… maybe. We don’t have as strong a connection as we used to. Do you want to be a spectator or a handler?

  2. Barbara Schutt says:

    So glad to hear you are back and can participate in the community. PR will rebuild and rise up. So happy to see green coming back to the island!

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