Category five Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. In the storm’s wake, millions of residents were immobilized and left without power or drinkable water. Emergency power and backup provisions at hospitals were severely stressed, posing a lethal threat to those in need of medical attention or supplies, such as insulin and oxygen tanks. Today, Puerto Rico is nowhere near a full recovery, though its infrastructure and electrical grid are slowly being restored.
For many Puerto Ricans, the slow pace of recovery is frustrating; the inefficiencies of local government and federal agencies to meet the needs of the islanders have greatly prolonged recovery. Many residents of the island took on the responsibility of distributing food, clothing, and water through non-profit volunteer organizations—many of which were established in response to Hurricane Maria.
Tomas Woodall Posada meets constituents of volunteer brigades to hear their challenges, stories of survival, and outlook on the island’s future.