Reconstruction efforts ongoing two years after Hurricane María
Rev. César R. Maurás Torres
September 30, 2019
On September 20, 2017, barely two weeks after Hurricane Irma, Puerto Rico was embattled by the fury of Hurricane María. Its winds began to be felt the evening of September 19, the beginning of what seemed an endless night. At 6 a.m. the following morning, María made landfall across the southeast coast.
The resulting devastation was immense. Nearly 3,000 dead. $90 billion in property damage. The electrical grid destroyed. Communications collapsed. More than 80 percent of the population without clean water. As a people, we suffered a setback of roughly 40 years. It was a long, terrible nightmare.
Two years later, we are left with scars that remind us of the suffering caused by María. There is the pain of many who could not offer a final goodbye to their loved ones and the fear that is triggered each time we learn a new storm is brewing somewhere in the Atlantic. We are left with a fragile infrastructure, including a frail electrical grid and severely damaged roads. Thousands still live under blue plastic tarp roofs. Churches cannot recover their material losses or congregation members who migrated elsewhere as a result of the storm.
Meanwhile, we remember how people came together and united in the common fight for necessities resulting from the fury of María. We remember those who took to the streets with machetes in hand to help clear the path and roadways for their neighbors. We remember those who shared what little they had in their cupboards so all the community could have at least one decent meal a day.
We remember Corporación Milagros del Amor (Miracles of Love Corporation, or CorMA) who, even though some of their members had lost everything, struggled to make sure people who arrived at their center found warm food, clothes, non-perishables, and personal hygiene items. Moreover, some of CorMA’s personnel moved to isolated zones of the island to make sure help reached those people who were secluded from the rest of the community.
All this was possible thanks to the aid given by American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), who from the very beginning supported our work and that of the Puerto Rico Baptist Churches (Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico). Without the spiritual, moral, and economic support of ABHMS, it would not have been possible to deliver so many miracles of love among the affected families.
Today reconstruction efforts continue, perhaps not as intensely as in those first days, but with the same urgency.
Today reconstruction efforts continue, perhaps not as intensely as in those first days, but with the same urgency. Those who have not managed to heal the wounds left by Hurricane María, still need moral support that enables them to look toward the future with a positive attitude, spiritual support that enables them to keep faith alive amid the death and suffering, and economic support that allows them to restore their homes and access to basic needs such as running water and electricity. We invite your help, prayers, and offerings so our efforts will be sufficient to meet these ongoing challenges and needs.
The Rev. César R. Maurás Torres is the retired pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista de Caguas, Puerto Rico. To learn more about how you can support reconstruction efforts, visit Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico.
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