Temporal, Temporal…

In Puerto Rico we have a very unique name for Atlantic based storms: temporales. We even have a song dedicated to the impact they cause in our immediate lives, the uncertainty of being in the way of the eye of a hurricane. There is something magical about that word because it describes both the temperamental nature of these beasts and the quick movement of the weather system through the Island. It is a mix of wind, rain and calm that pretty much describes each boricua: a true force of nature.

El ganao se ve inquieto. El cielo esplomo parejo
El aire esta suspendido. No se escucha ni un ladrido
Todo anuncia la tormenta, todo es ansiedad
El instinto va avisando. viene un temporal

Un bravido corta el cielo. La madre solloza un ruego
En los ojos duele el verde, la cosecha que se pierde
El cielo va obscureciendo. todo es ansiedad
Ya se espera el sinbronaso, va llegando el.

Temporal, temporal. alla viene el temporal.
Que sera de mi Borinquen cuando llegue el temporal
Que sera de Puerto Rico, cuando llegue el temporal

Temporal, temporal. alla viene el temporal.
Todo el pueblo esta reunido en el lugar mas seguro
Algunos estan rezando, Dios mio, todo se a puesto obscuro

Temporal, temporal. alla viene el temporal.
Los hombres estan condenando las puertas y las ventanas
Hay aroma de cafe y esperanza para mañana

Temporal, temporal. alla viene el temporal
Los viejos estan comentando de temporales pasados
Los jovenes escuchando se sienten que estan retados

Temporal, temporal. alla viene el temporal
Santa Maria, libranos de todo mal, amparanos Señora del terrible temporal

I have been scanning social media outlets for information. Hurricane Maria hit on September 20th, 2017 and came inland through the municipality of Yabucoa around 7am EST. Around 11 am most of the diaspora (those in the USA and beyond) lost communication with family members. Cell phone towers and electricity lines were down when the 135+ mph winds of this Category 4 hit. Every town and every city started to heavily flood soon there after.

The few people on my feed that had Claro communications got word and updates out fast. Cell phone charges were being conserved but many people had extra batteries and car charges ready to plug in and recharge. TV stations sent out crews to cover what they could for as long as possible and ate slowly starting to emerge. Most highways and roads are flooded or full of debris. People are sitting on their rooftops waiting to be rescued. Only one person so far has been reported as deceased due to the storm. And it is only Thursday!

Not even 24 hrs later, emergency crews are doing the rounds. FEMA, Red Cross and other organizations are looking for volunteers. Social media is flooded with pictures and fundraising sites. Warning messages advising people to check campaigns to avoid being scammed are already circulating. Zello is up and running, and many people are getting messages out through internet apps since phone lines are still down. The buzzing of power plants permeates a very calm and quiet environment that will soon be overrun with coqui chants. Life slowed down to the basics; food, water, shelter and finding other survivors.

It is not an exaggeration on my part to use the word survivors. The howling winds mortified the entire populace. Not one single soul thought that they were going to make it 100%. The experience was so bad it made people rethink their priorities. Stuck in a bathroom, planning for the worst and hoping for the best is not an easy feat. The claustrophobia alone scarred people for life. Experts predict PTSD occurrences will skyrocket. Everyone is getting prepared to spend the next three months without water or power. Hurricane Georges (1998) and Hurricane Hugo (1989) x2.

SmartSelectImage_2017-09-21-09-35-43

This was my first hurricane experience from a distance. My smartphone turned into a mini command center, forwarding data and making calls to connect people. Situations like these prove that it is who you know and how you make people feel that make you effective in times of crisis. So far we slowly find missing or unaccounted family and friends. Progress is slow, but it is progress after all, an exercise in patience.

As I typed this my mom was turning back on the highway on my way to grandma’s. It is so flooded it will take another two days to find clear passage to her part of town.

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Baldorioty De Castro, Sept 21 2017.

Little by little debris is cleared and people come out of the safety of their homes to rebuild. It will be a few weeks before everything can flow a bit smoother and physical contact can be made with our loved ones. At some point, routines will go back to normal, kids will go to school and adults will report for work. For now, locals will grab a beer, a fan, a domino set or board game and spend time with their family. The worst has come to pass, and they have persevered. Boricuas have done it before and they will do it again.

Donate, volunteer, spread the word. An entire island country needs our help and strength. A few weeks ago they were helping Hurricane Irma survivors. They showed us they were made out of sugar, spice and everything fierce. It is their time to be assisted. The call beckons us home.


For more information check Meteorologia del Caribe or any site with Hurricane Maria as a header. Also, check out Zello (app) and local radio stations via I Heart Radio and other internet broadcasting apps.

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