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  HOME | Caribbean

Residents of Destroyed San Juan District Wonder Where to Go, What to Do

SAN JUAN – Residents of the Barrio Obrero Marina district are looking for somewhere and some way to move after their homes were among the 200 flooded and destroyed by Hurricane Maria.

“It was horrible. The house filled with water up to the kitchen cabinets. This house stood up to previous hurricanes until Maria came along,” EFE was told by Lilian Sanchez, a resident of the district for 52 years, but who is now looking for a new home after losing hers.

“I’m thinking of leaving because I’m alone, sick and I need a safe home,” said Sanchez, who if she moves, will leave behind the house where she grew up, lived all her life and where her mother died.

The problem of sewers and of living next to the Martin Peña Pipeline have been the main reasons this area is always getting flooded, so that the property owners are constantly losing their possessions.

“They tell me these houses are ready to be torn down. They can’t repair them and won’t give men money to repair mine,” Sanchez said.

Two streets before Sanchez, one Jose Hernandez was trying to understand how Hurricane Maria could so totally destroy the house where his grandmother lived, she who suffers from Alzheimer’s.

“My house is totally gone. The wind tore off the roof – what a disaster. My grandma lived there and I had to give her to my mom to take care of her,” Hernandez, a worker at a hospital in the capital, told EFE.

“The whirlwind took everything. So I’m forcing my mind, giving myself therapy to convince myself everything’s all right and we’ll move on from this,” he said in front of his residence, a total loss for which he will receive no compensation from the authorities.

Hernandez, however, saw a ray of hope when a group of volunteers of the ENLACE Project were distributing lunches prepared by businessman Rafael Rodriguez through his “Hot Dish” program, which he created after Hurricane Maria blasted its way through.

“This is incredible – the first time somebody gives me anything. I wasn’t expecting it, so thank you very much,” Hernandez told Rodriguez, known as “Rafi Rod.”

Rodriguez, with 30 years in the restaurant business, said that after Hurricane Maria he went in the streets and saw that “people were starving. The next day I started cooking at home and I began making 10 dishes, the next day 30 and afterwards 100, 300 and then 1,000.”

“I could be in my bar serving cold beers, but I prefer to lend a hand to the people” who need help, he said.


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