I’ve lagged on writing about the hurricanes, not only because they were so heavily covered in the news, but because the overall experience was such a disruption to life that things are just barely returning to a normal state.
Irma, arriving in early September, gave me a false impression of what a hurricane was like. The wind howled, the building swayed and the windows leaked for hours. Not little drips and dribbles, but so much water forced its way through the window frames and windowsills, my living room looked as though a shallow pool were installed.
Water caused no damage as I mopped it up as quickly as I could, until the storm eventually tired and moved away from the island. Assuming Maria would be a similar storm, when she made landfall in late September, I prepped for more water. Lots and lots of water.
Then Maria arrived and she was dry in comparison to Irma. The wind was another story. The howl as wind wrapped around the building was so ferocious it sounded as though the windows were going to burst from their frames as the storm was still working into a frenzy.
Several hours into Maria the power went out. To be clear, we are more than sixty days beyond the storm and my building is still lacking power, as is a large portion of Puerto Rico. We do have a generator that is now running fairly well, but when the power went out that first night I assumed we would be back on the grid within a week. Never could I have imagined a city, especially one associated with the United State, would sit in darkness for so long.
As the windows rattled and the front door shook and hissed, I eventually gave in, settling myself and cat into the bathroom. Located in the center of the apartment, all walls are made of concrete and it seemed to be the safest place to wait out the storm. Inside we listened as you could hear glass shattering, trees snapping in half, boards ripping from buildings. It shook the nerves to hear all of this and sit in utter darkness.
You might think it would be better once daylight broke, but you’d be wrong. The wind continued until midday, with the sun up it made it possible to watch the destruction unfold. And with daylight came looting, blockading doorways, making a shiv and preparing for the worst. It was surreal to say the least.
The cleanup has come a long way, even without power we are moving forward and the city is slowly coming back to life.