Students with Roots in Puerto Rico Worry from Afar

Tragedy has struck the island of Puerto Rico, and the damage only seems to be building.  But the heartache doesn’t stop at the island, several Marist students with family still on the island are worried and awaiting responses from their loved ones.  From a personal standpoint, both of my parents grew up on the island, and the majority of their family is still there.  The most painful part is the waiting.  Waiting to see if they are okay, what the damages are if they have enough to provide for themselves until provisions can be sent over, whether they’ll stay in their homes or go visit family they may have anywhere else.


Senior at Marist College, Paola Rivera Lecleres grew up on the island, “It was really hard being here, I couldn’t communicate with my family, so seeing all of these reports scared me.”  Through her studies, this has been the most difficult for Rivera to process while being away from her family, “I even performed poorly on a test because I couldn’t communicate with them and it was in the back of my head, thankfully my teacher was understanding.”


With limited communications majority of students who have family on the island have not heard much, families from all over are posting to Facebook to alert everyone that they are okay.  Rivera was grateful to hear from her immediate family the first day, but for her extended family like her cousins, she waited days to hear from them.  The island currently has no power so most of the energy being used is coming from generators and for Rive, her brothers are still attending, “…worried about my brothers’ school and him falling behind and are also running of out diesel for their generator.”


Students who haven’t grown up on the island but still have family that lives there like Cassandra Sosa, a junior, has also been worried about her extended family.  “It is hard being at Marist, swamped with school work, jobs, and other commitments while worrying about my family struggling in Puerto Rico. It has been difficult to keep my mind on school work because I am constantly thinking of my loved ones that were impacted by this hurricane.”


Hit by two of the biggest storms on record the island is set to struggle for at least a few months before they get back on their feet.  Irma first with a category 5, and with Maria after with a category 1, later defined as a category 5, storm the damage keeps coming on this small island.  With SOS’s and flood alerts still in effect, the estimations for recovery are growing.  Millions still without power, but efforts are being made to make the best out of the worst situation.

Every day people are updating their situations, and hopefully relief efforts will begin to come to the island soon, in the meantime, we wait.

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