Paper map to reach Jayuya
Paper map to reach Jayuya

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Our first two days in Puerto Rico, we travelled about two hours from San Juan to the small town of Jayuya, deep in the mountains of the island. If you can read topographical maps, you can see that the mountains here are steep, and the roads wind precariously along their sides. The topography was just one of the challenges after the hurricane hit – those winding roads were covered over in places with mudslides, or washed away entirely into the deep valleys. The map was necessary for our trip, even with our fixer traveling with us, because cell service isn’t reliable due to towers lost during the storm so GPS and the map programs on our phones were no help. 

The Social Worker
The Social Worker

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Escuela Superior Josefina León Social Worker, Lourdes Bennett
 

Yoilmary
Yoilmary

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Yoilmary, 15, recently moved back from Pennsylvania with her mother, months before the hurricane. She recounts with a smile, the devastation she experienced on September 20th 2017 as the roof of her grandmothers house was torn away. The hardest part she said was not knowing for days what happened to her friends and family.

Three who lost their homes
Three who lost their homes

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

What we often take for granted, Jeimarie (far right) Glerysbeth (middle), and Edwin (like many of their friends) do not. A home, a “simple” roof over our heads, school books, uniforms, food and water. How in a matter of hours, everything can be taken from you, and the ripple effect is everlasting. They no longer have a home, Maria took that away and so much more. Listening to their stories, and the strength in their voices as they spoke of fear and destruction was as heartbreaking as it was inspiring. They came together to go on. There is much to be done in Jayuya, but their courage and fortitude as a community keeps them moving forward.

Glerysbeth
Glerysbeth

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Glerysbeth tells us of the ongoing hardships her family continues to endure. Her mother has suffered from repeated miscarriages and has difficulty finding work. The hurricane has exacerbated the family worries, as now they have no home.

Rosalinda
Rosalinda

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Rosalinda lost her home in its entirety and had nowhere to go. Her parents put a roof on the house because they wanted to return home even though it was in poor condition. Now she lives in her grandmother's house as FEMA did not help them rebuild their home. She continues to go to school, but her parents are looking for another place to live in Puerto Rico for better opportunities.

Josue, 15
Josue, 15

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Josue, 15, smiles as the school social worker asks how his family is doing. His home was badly damaged in the hurricane and is still without a roof, protected by the ubiquitous blue tarps. Because of damage to roads throughout Jayuya, the school bus can no longer reach his house, so Josue walks part of the way to a spot the bus can reach. His trip to school is now 45 minutes each way. 

The New Roads
The New Roads

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

In the mountains of Jayuya, the roads have been devastated by Hurricane Maria. Landfalls have made some roads impassable.

Luis's Reflection
Luis's Reflection

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Escuela Superior Josefina León School Counselor, Luis Pérez Soto,describes the destruction he witnessed the day after the hurricane. Luis, along with the staff at Escuela Superior Josefina Leon walked many miles after the hurricane settled to make sure the students and family in the community were safe. During the days, weeks and months after the hurricane, Luis and the staff also helped many families to secure the tarps on blown off roofs. 

Save our souls
Save our souls

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

In the days following Hurricane Maria, kids from Jayuya, Puerto Rico, climbed to the top of the mountain above their homes and wrote this message in hopes that National Guard helicopters would see, and bring food, water, and help. The families here walked on foot over steep mountain roads buried by mudslides and broken trees to check on one another. When food ran low, they shared with each other. At the time of our visit, four months after the hurricane, only a few homes have safe water. Most homes still have no electricity, and running generators is costly. There's no guess how much longer it will be. The needs, like the spray paint, are as fresh and stark as they were in September.

Cristo
Cristo

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls 

A mere hundred yards from the scrawled SOS, a cross, and Christ's arms extended toward heaven. In Puerto Rico, evidences of faith are ever present. 

Road bed revealed by flooded river
Road bed revealed by flooded river

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

The road alongside this creek was washed away when the creek flooded violently in the hours following the hurricane. Beneath the asphalt, a roadbed from a past century. 

Josue's house
Josue's house

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Under the midday sun, tinted by the blue FEMA tarps stretched over the entire house, a mattress leans against a wall, slowly drying after being soaked by the salty hurricane rains. Because supplies (and the money to pay for them) are slow to reach the isolated mountain towns, many homes are still without roofs - and next hurricane season is only five months away. 

Looking in on the past
Looking in on the past

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

In the home of Jose, a student at Escuela Superior Josefina León, the mattress and furniture are pushed against the wall for protection. It has remained this way since the day of the hurricane.

FEMA's Housecalls
FEMA's Housecalls

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) leaves a note on the door letting the occupants know they have come, and often times, FEMA does not return. 

No pase
No pase

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

“Don’t Pass”. This bridge in Jayuya collapsed disrupting road access for many. Without hesitation, the people of the community came together to rebuild the bridge.

Elizabeth and her son, Jesus
Elizabeth and her son, Jesus

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

In a hallway of their home, now open to the elements, Elizabeth stands with her son Jesus. Jesus has brain cancer, and didn't go to school today because he was talking about taking his own life. Both Jesus and his mom have symptoms of depression. Behind Jesus, a generator in the living room provides electricity for some light at night, and charges cell phones even though service is spotty in the mountains. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Jesus is 15 years old with brain cancer. He is suicidal and his mother fears that the reason for his sickness stems from the position of their home near a cellular tower. Three quarters of her home was destroyed and FEMA has given her just $3,000.00 to repair her home. She wanted to use the money to build a new home far from the tower, but FEMA will allow her to use the money only for this home.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Jesus is 15 years old with brain cancer. He is suicidal and his mother fears that the reason for his sickness stems from the position of their home near a cellular tower. Three quarters of her home was destroyed and FEMA has given her just $3,000.00 to repair her home. She wanted to use the money to build a new home far from the tower, but FEMA will allow her to use the money only for this home.

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Jesus' mother has two other daughters, aged 4 and 10. She stands where her kitchen once was and she tells us of her everyday fear that her 4 year old will fall from the unsecured area.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Jesus' mother has two other daughters, aged 4 and 10. She stands where her kitchen once was and she tells us of her everyday fear that her 4 year old will fall from the unsecured area.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Standing on her porch beside the empty space where her kitchen used to be, Elizabeth Agosto González says goodbye to the social worker and counselor from Escuela Josefina León Zayas, where her son Jesus attends high school. They visited her on this morning, because her son was speaking of taking his life. Elizabeth called the school, and they came. Elizabeth has two other children, daughters ages 10 and 4. She is afraid her 4 year old will fall off of the open floor where the kitchen was ripped away when Maria passed over. She is worried because the $3000 she has been approved for will not pay for all the necessary repairs anyway. She is worried that repairs can’t be completed before next hurricane season. Everyone in Jayuya is already worried about next season. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  “Jayuya the City of the Tomato.” Jayuya boats the best tomatoes in Puerto Rico. The quality is believed to be superior because the tomatoes are sweet. Sadly, hurricane Maria took all of the tomato and banana crops. The farmers have had to purchase and replant these crops, but with the impending hurricane season, many are fearful that the once stable source of food and income, will not mature before June. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

“Jayuya the City of the Tomato.” Jayuya boats the best tomatoes in Puerto Rico. The quality is believed to be superior because the tomatoes are sweet. Sadly, hurricane Maria took all of the tomato and banana crops. The farmers have had to purchase and replant these crops, but with the impending hurricane season, many are fearful that the once stable source of food and income, will not mature before June. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  In Jayuya where power is still not restored, there are cellular “hot spots” where people gather to get cell phone service. Driving, you will also see a random area with lots of cars parked closely together. This is a sign that there is a hot spot close by. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

In Jayuya where power is still not restored, there are cellular “hot spots” where people gather to get cell phone service. Driving, you will also see a random area with lots of cars parked closely together. This is a sign that there is a hot spot close by. 

Clouds for a roof
Clouds for a roof

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

All that remains of this home is the parts made of cinderblock, and what was too heavy or too small to blow away. The family that lived here is living now with relatives next door. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  A home destroyed by hurricane Maria and left in the same state of despair since September 20th 2017

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

A home destroyed by hurricane Maria and left in the same state of despair since September 20th 2017

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  She has 4 children (one photographed on the bike and another in the car). The home she lives in was originally owned by her grandmother. She grew up in the same home, and before the hurricane, her family lived there. It was flattened by the hurricane, and because she has no official title to the home, FEMA will not give her money to fix a home that is not hers.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

She has 4 children (one photographed on the bike and another in the car). The home she lives in was originally owned by her grandmother. She grew up in the same home, and before the hurricane, her family lived there. It was flattened by the hurricane, and because she has no official title to the home, FEMA will not give her money to fix a home that is not hers.

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Portrait of a mom of 4 who lost her home in the hurricane.  The home she lives in was originally owned by her grandmother. She grew up in the same home, and before the hurricane, her family lived there. It was flattened by the hurricane. Because she has no official title to the home, FEMA will not give her money to fix a home that is not hers.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Portrait of a mom of 4 who lost her home in the hurricane.

The home she lives in was originally owned by her grandmother. She grew up in the same home, and before the hurricane, her family lived there. It was flattened by the hurricane. Because she has no official title to the home, FEMA will not give her money to fix a home that is not hers.

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Portrait of a girl who lost her home in the hurricane

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Portrait of a girl who lost her home in the hurricane

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Amalia Rosario is a baker and provides for the family. Hurricane Maria took away the stove and parts of her home where all her utensils were. She no longer has the equipment to bake and provide for her family. Jayuya, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Amalia Rosario is a baker and provides for the family. Hurricane Maria took away the stove and parts of her home where all her utensils were. She no longer has the equipment to bake and provide for her family. Jayuya, Puerto Rico

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Amalia's daughter is home from school early because the electricity and water that had been temporarily restored, had cut out once again. The disruption for not only the parents of the families, but for the children's education is something that is felt throughout Puerto Rico. Many children are worried about entering university because of missed exams due to schools being closed for long periods of time. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Amalia's daughter is home from school early because the electricity and water that had been temporarily restored, had cut out once again. The disruption for not only the parents of the families, but for the children's education is something that is felt throughout Puerto Rico. Many children are worried about entering university because of missed exams due to schools being closed for long periods of time. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro   Four months post Hurricane Maria, power is still out here, and this is a common sight. Generators are expensive to buy, and even more expensive to run, costing up to $700-1000 per month. Rather, many run electricity from their car batteries. The problem with this, is that it only gives power for about 30-60 minutes, and then the battery has to be recharged, and this can be done by a generator, which in turn adds to the raising cost of using the generator. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro 

Four months post Hurricane Maria, power is still out here, and this is a common sight. Generators are expensive to buy, and even more expensive to run, costing up to $700-1000 per month. Rather, many run electricity from their car batteries. The problem with this, is that it only gives power for about 30-60 minutes, and then the battery has to be recharged, and this can be done by a generator, which in turn adds to the raising cost of using the generator. 

Signal
Signal

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

A recurring theme among the teens was desire for cell service to return to normal. This middle school girl tries to get a signal to talk with her friends. School is out each day at noon for them because there is no electricity at the school. There is none at home either. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Yolanda Perez makes a coffee by lamp as she recounts the morning of the hurricane. She tells us that her son died a few months before the hurricane, and she had not been in his room since his death. The hurricane forced her and eight others into his room because it was the only safe place.  

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Yolanda Perez makes a coffee by lamp as she recounts the morning of the hurricane. She tells us that her son died a few months before the hurricane, and she had not been in his room since his death. The hurricane forced her and eight others into his room because it was the only safe place.  

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  During the hurricane, a mudslide tore through this house leaving a gaping hole in the back and the front. The woman living here, Evelyn, and her husband were taken by the mud. Evelyn’s husband died, while Evelyn lost her leg.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

During the hurricane, a mudslide tore through this house leaving a gaping hole in the back and the front. The woman living here, Evelyn, and her husband were taken by the mud. Evelyn’s husband died, while Evelyn lost her leg.

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  There was mud splattered everywhere on the walls during the mudslide. Dirt was piled high on the ground, the fridge was overturned, yet the cooking pot on the stove with a spoon remained in tact. When we met the woman who lived in this house, she recounted the story which included the loss of her leg, as well as her husband. Throughout the heartbreaking story, she smiled, constantly remind us and herself, that she was in the hands of God. That she had angles around her as she was stuck in the mud, opened to the elements of hurricane Maria for four hours. Despite her ordeal, and the continued strife she faces, she believes in the higher power.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

There was mud splattered everywhere on the walls during the mudslide. Dirt was piled high on the ground, the fridge was overturned, yet the cooking pot on the stove with a spoon remained in tact. When we met the woman who lived in this house, she recounted the story which included the loss of her leg, as well as her husband. Throughout the heartbreaking story, she smiled, constantly remind us and herself, that she was in the hands of God. That she had angles around her as she was stuck in the mud, opened to the elements of hurricane Maria for four hours. Despite her ordeal, and the continued strife she faces, she believes in the higher power.

SOS-PR-93.jpg
Evelyn's things
Evelyn's things

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

The mudslide broke through the window of the back wall of the house, where the bedroom was. The force of the flow of mud broke the wall between the bedroom and bathroom, and careened through to the front of the house, sweeping Evelyn and her husband away. Her husband did not survive. Evelyn, however, survived 3-4 hours trapped in mud and exposed to the storm. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  The devastation left behind in this home after a mudslide tore through it during hurricane Maria.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

The devastation left behind in this home after a mudslide tore through it during hurricane Maria.

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  The exterior of the home after the mudslide ripped through it.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

The exterior of the home after the mudslide ripped through it.

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Evelyn recounts the morning of September 20th in great detail. She and her husband were in their home when, without warning, a mudslide ripped through the house. She was taken immediately and was buried in the mud up to her chest for hours, completely open to the elements of the hurricane. It was only when help could arrive after hearing her, did she realize her husband did not make it. Subsequently Evelyn lost her leg, and continues to receive medical treatment for her leg, arm and head.  A gofund me page has been set up to assist Evelyn:  https://www.gofundme.com/aujvp-evelyn   

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Evelyn recounts the morning of September 20th in great detail. She and her husband were in their home when, without warning, a mudslide ripped through the house. She was taken immediately and was buried in the mud up to her chest for hours, completely open to the elements of the hurricane. It was only when help could arrive after hearing her, did she realize her husband did not make it. Subsequently Evelyn lost her leg, and continues to receive medical treatment for her leg, arm and head. 
A gofund me page has been set up to assist Evelyn: https://www.gofundme.com/aujvp-evelyn
 

 Photo Credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Evelyn recounts the morning of September 20th in great detail as she shows us her leg. She and her husband were at their home when, without warning, a mudslide ripped through the house. She was taken immediately and was buried in the mud up to her chest for hours, completely open to the elements of the hurricane. It was only when help could arrive after hearing her, did she realize her husband did not make it. Subsequently Evelyn lost her leg, and continues to receive medical treatment for her leg, arm and head.  A gofund me page has been set up to assist Evelyn:  https://www.gofundme.com/aujvp-evelyn    

Photo Credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Evelyn recounts the morning of September 20th in great detail as she shows us her leg. She and her husband were at their home when, without warning, a mudslide ripped through the house. She was taken immediately and was buried in the mud up to her chest for hours, completely open to the elements of the hurricane. It was only when help could arrive after hearing her, did she realize her husband did not make it. Subsequently Evelyn lost her leg, and continues to receive medical treatment for her leg, arm and head. 
A gofund me page has been set up to assist Evelyn: https://www.gofundme.com/aujvp-evelyn

 

SOS-PR-29.jpg
Evelyn
Evelyn

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Lourdes
Lourdes

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Lourdes Bennett is the lead social worker at Escuela Josefina León Zayas, the high school in Jayuya. It’s an exemplary school, blessed with a uniquely committed director and staff. In this moment, Lourdes comforts her friend, Evelyn, a special education teacher who lost her leg, and her husband, when a mudslide crashed through her house as Hurricane Maria ravaged the mountain town. Lourdes’s heart is for her community, and she credits her father for teaching her to be strong in the face of adversity. In these last four months she has worked tirelessly to catalog and meet the pressing needs of the students in her school, their families, and their neighbors. Evelyn’s miraculous survival may seem the more amazing story; but to me, Lourdes’s unwavering strength and evident compassion are the emblems of the people of Jayuya. No one came to save them, they had to save each other.

Las horas de la pasión
Las horas de la pasión

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Evelyn explained that during the 3-4 hours she was trapped in the mud from the mudslide that destroyed her home, she kept her spirit strong by recalling the hours of Christ's passion, in which he suffered torment and crucifixion. In recalling Christ's torment she found strength to endure until neighbors heard her cries through the wind, and came to dig her free. A visitor to her beside during her recovery brought this book to her, which she has been reading throughout her slow healing process. 

Baxter's water
Baxter's water

Baxter Pharmaceuticals' manufacturing plant is one of Jayuya's biggest employers. Some of those we talked to suspected that a few of Jayuya's downtown buildings regained power when they did was due to pressure from the mainland US company. We were told that in the days following the hurricane, people in town had asked Baxter to share the potable water in this tank, and they would not. 

Cantera / Golden Mile
Cantera / Golden Mile

The Cantera neighborhood in San Juan, PR. Standing on a hill in Cantera, you can look out over the community of low, close buildings and narrow streets where the poorest residents of San Juan make their homes. City services are never adequate in the best of times, and the post-Maria “new normal” hits this community even harder than most. Built largely in land reclaimed from the lagoon and the Martin Pena Canal, Cantera lies just to the north of San Juan’s “Golden Mile”, the financial district home to international banking offices, prestigious law and trading firms. This photo captures the two extremes of money and prospects in San Juan.

Historic photo of Cantera in the 1990s
Historic photo of Cantera in the 1990s

This photo hangs in a conference room in the offices of the Cantera Community Development Company, beside another overhead image of the same area from the 1930s. You can see how the once wide canal has been hemmed in with homes, and the slum has encroached on the shores of the lagoon. Throughout the 1900s, the poor settled in the marginal areas in and around San Juan. Cantera today is one of San Juan's poorest, and most dangerous neighborhoods. Efforts to help businesses take root and create opportunities for residents are often hindered by lack of municipal resources, and negligence toward the residents on the part of San Juan government. 

Historic photo of the area which is now Cantera, in the 1930s
Historic photo of the area which is now Cantera, in the 1930s

This photo hangs in a conference room in the offices of the Cantera Community Development Company, beside another overhead image of the same area in the 1990s. In this earlier photo, the Martin Pena Canal is wide and the lagoon has a shoreline. The same area in the 1900s shows the canal pinched to a trickle and the small alleyways and tight quarters of the Cantera slum. 

San Juan history and geography
San Juan history and geography

Luis Cintrón, director of the Cantera Community Development Company describes the growth of the Cantera neighborhood before taking us in to meet and photograph with residents. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  A woman in Cantera, San Juan tells us, “We are forgotten here. We are invisible.”

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

A woman in Cantera, San Juan tells us, “We are forgotten here. We are invisible.”

Community
Community

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Part of the work Luis Cintrón does as executive director of Proyecto Peninsula de Cantera is building and strengthening community connections. Resident interest in the betterment of the neighborhood waxes and wanes - many who were energetic in past years have aged, and it is a constant challenge to interest younger men and women in the kind of work and investment necessary to turn the tide in this impoverished neighborhood. 

Luis
Luis

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

A resident of the Cantera neighborhood in San Juan pauses in the midst of repairs to his home to greet Luis Cintrón, Executive Director of Proyecto Peninsula de Cantera, a community development organization for the neighborhood. He asks Luis, “Can you help me reach FEMA? They haven’t come back.” Residents of Cantera are among the poorest in San Juan, and they hold out little hope that either Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority or federal agencies will remember them. And even if they do come to restore power, Luis explained to us, many of the buildings are not up to code, and some people's homes are connected illegally, so access to electricity remains a problem, even when power is finally restored.

At leisure
At leisure

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Old men sit outside a market, enjoying the sunshine on a warm January afternoon, in the Cantera neighborhood of San Juan, PR. 

Shadows and dog
Shadows and dog

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

One thing you can't help notice in Puerto Rico is the dogs. Everyone seems to have one, and then there are a few more for good measure.  This puppy approaches as we walk the narrow streets of the Cantera slum in San Juan. 

Middle school, closed
Middle school, closed

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

A middle school in the Cantera neighborhood in San Juan, closed since September 20, 2017. Someone posted a hand lettered sign to the locked gate: “He who opens the door of a school closes a prison.” The displaced students attend classes at another school nearby - a school holding more than double it’s capacity of kids. The host school is an elementary school, so the older kids and younger kids have to share the younger kids’ space. It is a less than ideal situation with no end in sight.

la puerta de una escuela
la puerta de una escuela

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

“The one who opens the door of a school, closes the door of a prison”.Close up of the sign on the middle school, closed now for 4+ months. 

Solitary
Solitary

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

A teenager walks alone through an alleyway in Cantera, toward the housing project. Though prospects for young people in Cantera might seem bleak, we did speak with one mother who has put her two sons through school in the US - one is now in criminal justice and one is finishing a neurosurgery residency. There is as much human potential in Cantera as anywhere else, though conditions here are truly third-world. 

Across the lagoon
Across the lagoon

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

On the site of a municipal basketball court, destroyed by Hurricane Maria in September 2017, looking across the lagoon from the poor neighborhood of Cantera toward the expensive beach condos of the north shore of San Juan. Shortly before our January visit to this area, the trash from neighborhood cleanup had been piled several feet high. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Cantera, one of the poorest areas in San Juan is in such close proximity to, and overlooks the “Golden Mile”, better known as the “Wall Street” of Puerto Rico.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Cantera, one of the poorest areas in San Juan is in such close proximity to, and overlooks the “Golden Mile”, better known as the “Wall Street” of Puerto Rico.

Sewage in Cantera, San Juan, PR
Sewage in Cantera, San Juan, PR

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

The entire neighborhood of Cantera rests on a peninsula wrested from the Laguna Los Corozos and the Martin Peña Canal. Because the ground lies below the water table, the septic system is vacuum based, rather than gravity based. When the power goes out, the vacuums go out, and sewage back flows into the streets. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  During the hurricane, the structure of the basketball court fell onto the apartment building. Since then, the city has done nothing to alleviate the building from withstanding the weight of the fallen structure. The apartments are in darkness during the day, forcing the residents to use generators for light. More seriously, is the water and pigeon feces seeping into the homes causing severe respiratory problems for many. Cantera, San Juan

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

During the hurricane, the structure of the basketball court fell onto the apartment building. Since then, the city has done nothing to alleviate the building from withstanding the weight of the fallen structure. The apartments are in darkness during the day, forcing the residents to use generators for light. More seriously, is the water and pigeon feces seeping into the homes causing severe respiratory problems for many. Cantera, San Juan

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  During the hurricane, the structure of the basketball court fell onto the apartment building. Since then, the city has done nothing to alleviate the building from withstanding the weight of the fallen structure. The apartments are in darkness during the day, forcing the residents to use generators for light. More seriously, is the water and pigeon feces seeping into the homes causing severe respiratory problems for many. Cantera, San Juan.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

During the hurricane, the structure of the basketball court fell onto the apartment building. Since then, the city has done nothing to alleviate the building from withstanding the weight of the fallen structure. The apartments are in darkness during the day, forcing the residents to use generators for light. More seriously, is the water and pigeon feces seeping into the homes causing severe respiratory problems for many. Cantera, San Juan.

It's blocking the light
It's blocking the light

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

A resident of Cantera community, one of the poorest areas of San Juan, stands on her balcony to show us where the municipal basketball court metal roof has fallen against her building. It crashed over during the hurricane and remains to this day. It blocks the light to her porch, where she likes to sit with her brother and have coffee in the morning. Since she is also still without electricity, the daylight is longed for. Her community is in the middle of Puerto Rico’s beautiful capital, but she says they are forgotten. The city has not come to help them. In a neighborhood already overlooked, it seems unlikely that Puerto Rico’s limited recovery resources will reach these people soon.

Waiting
Waiting

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Her community is in the middle of Puerto Rico’s beautiful capital, but she says they are forgotten. The city has not come to help them. In a neighborhood already overlooked, it seems unlikely that Puerto Rico’s limited recovery resources will reach these people soon.

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Dona, as she’s known in the Cantera community, recounts the day hurricane Maria Hit.  “My husband held me in our bed and said, this is it. We had a good life, I love you”. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Dona, as she’s known in the Cantera community, recounts the day hurricane Maria Hit.  “My husband held me in our bed and said, this is it. We had a good life, I love you”. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Due to the structure of the basketball court resting on the apartment buildings, rainwater mixed with pigeon feces constantly trickles into the apartments causing severe respiratory problems. Cantera, San Juan.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Due to the structure of the basketball court resting on the apartment buildings, rainwater mixed with pigeon feces constantly trickles into the apartments causing severe respiratory problems. Cantera, San Juan.

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Dona opens the powerless fridge to show us that there is nothing there but a few baby cockroaches. They have no money to buy excess food, and no money to keep the generator going to power the fridge. Cantera, San Juan.   

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Dona opens the powerless fridge to show us that there is nothing there but a few baby cockroaches. They have no money to buy excess food, and no money to keep the generator going to power the fridge. Cantera, San Juan.

 

 Photo credit:  Dona shows us that she is given two bags of rice. That’s all the food she has in the house. She cannot have food that needs refrigeration because it too expensive to power the fridge using the generator. Cantera, San Juan.

Photo credit:

Dona shows us that she is given two bags of rice. That’s all the food she has in the house. She cannot have food that needs refrigeration because it too expensive to power the fridge using the generator. Cantera, San Juan.

Open for light
Open for light

In a dark apartment in the Cantera neighborhood in San Juan, a resident pets his cat. The gate at the door keeps her inside while the front door is left open to let the light in. They have been four months without power, and only using the generator a few hours after dark each night to conserve money. 

The whole building shook
The whole building shook

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

A Cantera resident describes the moment during Hurricane Maria when the municipal basketball court next to her apartment block crashed into her building. "My husband was in the bed with me, with his arms around me. We heard a crash and the whole building shook.  He held me and said, 'This is the end!'"

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Dona's bedroom now has no natural light. She opens the shutters to show the fallen basketball structure against the side of her apartment which is the cause of darkness during the day. The overhead light is now used during the day from the generator, which costs her a lot of money. Cantera, San Juan. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Dona's bedroom now has no natural light. She opens the shutters to show the fallen basketball structure against the side of her apartment which is the cause of darkness during the day. The overhead light is now used during the day from the generator, which costs her a lot of money. Cantera, San Juan. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Dona holds strong to her faith as she shows us the Rosary she held onto for hours during the hurricane. Cantera, San Juan

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Dona holds strong to her faith as she shows us the Rosary she held onto for hours during the hurricane. Cantera, San Juan

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Fallen trees from hurricane Maria have yet to be removed in Cantera, San Juan.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Fallen trees from hurricane Maria have yet to be removed in Cantera, San Juan.

Irma came first
Irma came first

A backyard in Cantera, San Juan, with a tree that was knocked down during Hurricane Irma, which hit parts of Puerto Rico just two weeks before Hurricane Maria devastated the whole island. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Fallen poles have not been fixed, and more onimously, there is no telling when they will be repaired. Cantera, Puerto Rico   

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Fallen poles have not been fixed, and more onimously, there is no telling when they will be repaired. Cantera, Puerto Rico

 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  A family in Cantera, San Juan.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

A family in Cantera, San Juan.

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  An elderly woman looks on from her balcony amidst destruction caused by hurricane Maria. Cantera, San Juan.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

An elderly woman looks on from her balcony amidst destruction caused by hurricane Maria. Cantera, San Juan.

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  The roof of his barber shop was taken in the hurricane. Now he and his team work on the street under a tent, using the electricity from their cars to power their tools. Cantera, San Juan

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

The roof of his barber shop was taken in the hurricane. Now he and his team work on the street under a tent, using the electricity from their cars to power their tools. Cantera, San Juan

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  The main road into Orocovis was destroyed making it impossible for vehicles to go to or leave the city. Construction continues today. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

The main road into Orocovis was destroyed making it impossible for vehicles to go to or leave the city. Construction continues today. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Juan Hernandez, a truck driver living with his wife Denisse and two sons, is seen here working on rebuilding his home that he built just 10 years ago. The house was blown away with the hurricane and parts of the home can be seen in the hills. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Juan Hernandez, a truck driver living with his wife Denisse and two sons, is seen here working on rebuilding his home that he built just 10 years ago. The house was blown away with the hurricane and parts of the home can be seen in the hills. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

"Then the whole house blew into the valley"
"Then the whole house blew into the valley"

Gorge King translates the story of Juan Rivera, whose house in Orcovis, Puerto Rico, was completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria. "We were next door, at my parent's house. We saw the wind lift the entire house off the foundation, and then the whole house blew into the valley."

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Juan wants to have his home rebuilt by next summer. They are running into problems, however. They paid for the materials two months prior and have received nothing. Meanwhile, the prices of materials continue to rise by the suppliers in the U.S. The Jones Act dictates that Puerto Rico cannot receive aid or materials from any other country other than the U.S. Orocovis, Puerto Rico   

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Juan wants to have his home rebuilt by next summer. They are running into problems, however. They paid for the materials two months prior and have received nothing. Meanwhile, the prices of materials continue to rise by the suppliers in the U.S. The Jones Act dictates that Puerto Rico cannot receive aid or materials from any other country other than the U.S. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

 

Denisse and her son, Javier, at home
Denisse and her son, Javier, at home

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Denisse Hernández stands on the tile floor of her home, on the four month anniversary of Hurricane Maria. Her 15 year old son Javi rests against the only remaining walls of the house - the cinderblock walls enclosing the bathroom. Behind them, a breathtaking valley outside Orocovis, Puerto Rico. 

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 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Juan’s wife Denisse, listens as her husband speaks of his hopes of rebuilding the home for his family. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Juan’s wife Denisse, listens as her husband speaks of his hopes of rebuilding the home for his family. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

 Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls  Denisse stands on the clean white tile floor of her home. No roof, and the only remaining walls are a cinderblock cubicle where the bathroom was. As her family weathered Hurricane Maria in the nearby home of her in-laws, Denisse’s children watched their house lift off its foundation and plunge into the valley. Denisse ran a business from her house, so the equipment and supplies for her livelihood were lost with the house. The family is somewhat fortunate in that FEMA aid totals about $10,000. But, the estimate costs of rebuilding the home to be around $35,000. More troubling for the moment, though, is the fact that they ordered cinderblocks to begin rebuilding, and paid, in mid-November. The cinderblocks have yet to arrive, and they don’t know when they will. It is Denise’s understanding that FEMA has legal right to take any supplies that arrive in port, and she thinks maybe FEMA used their cinderblocks for something. Meanwhile, the price of basic building supplies has more than doubled on the island. She thinks maybe US suppliers (thanks to the Jones Act, all shipments of anything to Puerto Rico have to come from US suppliers in US ships) are hiking up prices of supplies to Puerto Rico.  UPDATE: in mid-February, 2018, the cinderblocks arrived. They came just a few days after electricity was restored on Denisse's entire street. 

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Denisse stands on the clean white tile floor of her home. No roof, and the only remaining walls are a cinderblock cubicle where the bathroom was. As her family weathered Hurricane Maria in the nearby home of her in-laws, Denisse’s children watched their house lift off its foundation and plunge into the valley. Denisse ran a business from her house, so the equipment and supplies for her livelihood were lost with the house. The family is somewhat fortunate in that FEMA aid totals about $10,000. But, the estimate costs of rebuilding the home to be around $35,000. More troubling for the moment, though, is the fact that they ordered cinderblocks to begin rebuilding, and paid, in mid-November. The cinderblocks have yet to arrive, and they don’t know when they will. It is Denise’s understanding that FEMA has legal right to take any supplies that arrive in port, and she thinks maybe FEMA used their cinderblocks for something. Meanwhile, the price of basic building supplies has more than doubled on the island. She thinks maybe US suppliers (thanks to the Jones Act, all shipments of anything to Puerto Rico have to come from US suppliers in US ships) are hiking up prices of supplies to Puerto Rico.

UPDATE: in mid-February, 2018, the cinderblocks arrived. They came just a few days after electricity was restored on Denisse's entire street. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Jose and Denisse’s son, Javiel, 16, describes how he had to walk to the highway to receive cell phone signal multiple times a day for months after the hurricane. School was closed for two months after hurricane Maria hit. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Jose and Denisse’s son, Javiel, 16, describes how he had to walk to the highway to receive cell phone signal multiple times a day for months after the hurricane. School was closed for two months after hurricane Maria hit. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  What remained of Juan and Denisse’s home after hurricane Maria hit on September 20th 2017. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

What remained of Juan and Denisse’s home after hurricane Maria hit on September 20th 2017. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Skylight
Skylight

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

The walls surrounding the bathroom remained intact when the rest of the house blew away. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Water has been a significant problem in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. With water not having been restored for the majority of the island, many are forced to purchase bottle water not only for lack of access, but for safety purposes. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Water has been a significant problem in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. With water not having been restored for the majority of the island, many are forced to purchase bottle water not only for lack of access, but for safety purposes. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Denisse and her son, Xabdiel, 13, photographed on the remaining floor structure of their destroyed home. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Denisse and her son, Xabdiel, 13, photographed on the remaining floor structure of their destroyed home. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Denisse uses the power from her car for her nail business that she runs from her home because the generator is very expensive. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Denisse uses the power from her car for her nail business that she runs from her home because the generator is very expensive. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Denisse uses the power from her car for her nail business that she runs from her home because the generator is very expensive. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Denisse uses the power from her car for her nail business that she runs from her home because the generator is very expensive. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Juan and his sons sit at the table of their temporary home. They will live here until their home is rebuilt. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Juan and his sons sit at the table of their temporary home. They will live here until their home is rebuilt. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Juan's parents, Margarita and Juan Hernandez describe the day of Hurricane Maria. All of their children and grandchildren stayed together and she saw her son's home blow away. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Juan's parents, Margarita and Juan Hernandez describe the day of Hurricane Maria. All of their children and grandchildren stayed together and she saw her son's home blow away. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  The Hernandez Family at the local Church. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

The Hernandez Family at the local Church. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Margarita Hernandez receiving communion. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Margarita Hernandez receiving communion. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Javier
Javier

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Javier Rivera, 15, stands alone on his grandparents' enclosed porch, with coffee and pan sobao. Javi told me he wants to study agriculture. He raises and trains a game cock, and adores the family's two small dogs. He said no one talks about the Hurricane much at school, they would rather talk about something else. 

Cristo, II
Cristo, II

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

In Orocovis, in the geographical center of Puerto Rico, we joined neighborhood worshippers at Mass. A generator rumbled outside, in constant competition with the voices of the choir and supplicants, and constant reminder of the primary need: restoration of electricity. 

Orocovis, 5pm
Orocovis, 5pm

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Outside of the small neighborhood church, as Mass drew to a close, the sun set, casting the outline of the mountains against the white walls of the church. The shadow of a cross decorating the church yard fence hovers over the generator powering lights and fans for parishioners inside. 

Orocovis, 5am
Orocovis, 5am

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

We visited the central Puerto Rico town of Orocovis, and stayed in the home of a family there, as we photographed with several people in the neighborhood. Around 5am, I woke to use the bathroom, and noticed the grandparents were already up, quietly starting their day before the rest of the family was awake, as grandparents often do. I quickly threw a sweatshirt over my pajamas, and grabbed my camera. They were reading by the light of their phones in the deep pre-dawn darkness. The generators that ran from dusk through half the night, had run out of gas some hours before, and were silent until the sun came up and someone would refill them with gasoline for the next evening.

Update: About two weeks after we visited them, we learned through their jubilant Facebook posts that a power company truck arrived on their street, and within a few hours they were celebrating the return of the light – regular electricity for the first time in 18 weeks. 

Breakfast in Orocovis
Breakfast in Orocovis

In the pre-dawn hours, Lourdes is awake making mondongo (tripe stew) for the family and visitors for breakfast. Her only light is from small battery-powered lanterns stuck around the kitchen.

Jojo sings
Jojo sings

Jojo is Lourdes's cockateil, who sings when she waves her index finger in his face. Her young grandson mimics her motion.

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Grise (far right) sits at the table with her mother and sister while her nephew finishes breakfast from a paper plate. At the time this was photographed, there was no running water and so eating from disposable utensils saved the purchased water. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Grise (far right) sits at the table with her mother and sister while her nephew finishes breakfast from a paper plate. At the time this was photographed, there was no running water and so eating from disposable utensils saved the purchased water. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Children play in the river that was described as having heights of at least 20 feet high during Hurricane Maria. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Children play in the river that was described as having heights of at least 20 feet high during Hurricane Maria. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) packages are sent to the homes along with canned foods. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) packages are sent to the homes along with canned foods. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Phone
Phone

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Kids on their phones, staying in touch with friends and checking Facebook, was a recurring theme throughout our trip. Cell service was terrible in the days immediately after Hurricane Maria. Fortunately the various cell providers decided to share all towers together to ensure maximum coverage, improving communications for relief workers, military and medical services, and also for teenagers staying in touch with their friends. 

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  “Puerto Rico no esta apago” – Puerto Rico is not shutting down. The campaign was started by Puerto Rican actor and stand up comedian to raise money for supplies such as food and books for those in need in Puerto Rico.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

“Puerto Rico no esta apago” – Puerto Rico is not shutting down. The campaign was started by Puerto Rican actor and stand up comedian to raise money for supplies such as food and books for those in need in Puerto Rico.

 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  “Puerto Rico no esta apago” – Puerto Rico is not shutting down. The campaign was started by Puerto Rican actor and stand up comedian to raise money for supplies such as food and books for those in need in Puerto Rico.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

“Puerto Rico no esta apago” – Puerto Rico is not shutting down. The campaign was started by Puerto Rican actor and stand up comedian to raise money for supplies such as food and books for those in need in Puerto Rico.

Next in line
Next in line

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

A mother and her children stand in line for bags filled with water and canned goods, being handed out by a team of volunteers. The supplies came from donations made by Puerto Ricans living in the mainland US - collected by Puerto Rican radio host and stand up comedian Molusco as he toured US cities performing and accepting donations of non-perishable food and bottled water for the people on the island. They collected enough to fill *six* 53-foot shipping containers. Once the goods arrived in Puerto Rico, the team has been driving small moving trucks loaded with bagged goods, stopping in every town and handing out as many as they can before moving on. We happened to be in Orocovis when the truck arrived at the church and handed out the supplies.

Paper map to reach Jayuya
The Social Worker
Yoilmary
Three who lost their homes
Glerysbeth
Rosalinda
Josue, 15
The New Roads
Luis's Reflection
Save our souls
Cristo
Road bed revealed by flooded river
Josue's house
Looking in on the past
FEMA's Housecalls
No pase
Elizabeth and her son, Jesus
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Jesus is 15 years old with brain cancer. He is suicidal and his mother fears that the reason for his sickness stems from the position of their home near a cellular tower. Three quarters of her home was destroyed and FEMA has given her just $3,000.00 to repair her home. She wanted to use the money to build a new home far from the tower, but FEMA will allow her to use the money only for this home.
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Jesus' mother has two other daughters, aged 4 and 10. She stands where her kitchen once was and she tells us of her everyday fear that her 4 year old will fall from the unsecured area.
Elizabeth
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  “Jayuya the City of the Tomato.” Jayuya boats the best tomatoes in Puerto Rico. The quality is believed to be superior because the tomatoes are sweet. Sadly, hurricane Maria took all of the tomato and banana crops. The farmers have had to purchase and replant these crops, but with the impending hurricane season, many are fearful that the once stable source of food and income, will not mature before June. 
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  In Jayuya where power is still not restored, there are cellular “hot spots” where people gather to get cell phone service. Driving, you will also see a random area with lots of cars parked closely together. This is a sign that there is a hot spot close by. 
Clouds for a roof
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  A home destroyed by hurricane Maria and left in the same state of despair since September 20th 2017
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  She has 4 children (one photographed on the bike and another in the car). The home she lives in was originally owned by her grandmother. She grew up in the same home, and before the hurricane, her family lived there. It was flattened by the hurricane, and because she has no official title to the home, FEMA will not give her money to fix a home that is not hers.
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Portrait of a mom of 4 who lost her home in the hurricane.  The home she lives in was originally owned by her grandmother. She grew up in the same home, and before the hurricane, her family lived there. It was flattened by the hurricane. Because she has no official title to the home, FEMA will not give her money to fix a home that is not hers.
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Portrait of a girl who lost her home in the hurricane
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Amalia Rosario is a baker and provides for the family. Hurricane Maria took away the stove and parts of her home where all her utensils were. She no longer has the equipment to bake and provide for her family. Jayuya, Puerto Rico
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Amalia's daughter is home from school early because the electricity and water that had been temporarily restored, had cut out once again. The disruption for not only the parents of the families, but for the children's education is something that is felt throughout Puerto Rico. Many children are worried about entering university because of missed exams due to schools being closed for long periods of time. 
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro   Four months post Hurricane Maria, power is still out here, and this is a common sight. Generators are expensive to buy, and even more expensive to run, costing up to $700-1000 per month. Rather, many run electricity from their car batteries. The problem with this, is that it only gives power for about 30-60 minutes, and then the battery has to be recharged, and this can be done by a generator, which in turn adds to the raising cost of using the generator. 
Signal
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Yolanda Perez makes a coffee by lamp as she recounts the morning of the hurricane. She tells us that her son died a few months before the hurricane, and she had not been in his room since his death. The hurricane forced her and eight others into his room because it was the only safe place.  
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  During the hurricane, a mudslide tore through this house leaving a gaping hole in the back and the front. The woman living here, Evelyn, and her husband were taken by the mud. Evelyn’s husband died, while Evelyn lost her leg.
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  There was mud splattered everywhere on the walls during the mudslide. Dirt was piled high on the ground, the fridge was overturned, yet the cooking pot on the stove with a spoon remained in tact. When we met the woman who lived in this house, she recounted the story which included the loss of her leg, as well as her husband. Throughout the heartbreaking story, she smiled, constantly remind us and herself, that she was in the hands of God. That she had angles around her as she was stuck in the mud, opened to the elements of hurricane Maria for four hours. Despite her ordeal, and the continued strife she faces, she believes in the higher power.
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Evelyn's things
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  The devastation left behind in this home after a mudslide tore through it during hurricane Maria.
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  The exterior of the home after the mudslide ripped through it.
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Evelyn recounts the morning of September 20th in great detail. She and her husband were in their home when, without warning, a mudslide ripped through the house. She was taken immediately and was buried in the mud up to her chest for hours, completely open to the elements of the hurricane. It was only when help could arrive after hearing her, did she realize her husband did not make it. Subsequently Evelyn lost her leg, and continues to receive medical treatment for her leg, arm and head.  A gofund me page has been set up to assist Evelyn:  https://www.gofundme.com/aujvp-evelyn   
 Photo Credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Evelyn recounts the morning of September 20th in great detail as she shows us her leg. She and her husband were at their home when, without warning, a mudslide ripped through the house. She was taken immediately and was buried in the mud up to her chest for hours, completely open to the elements of the hurricane. It was only when help could arrive after hearing her, did she realize her husband did not make it. Subsequently Evelyn lost her leg, and continues to receive medical treatment for her leg, arm and head.  A gofund me page has been set up to assist Evelyn:  https://www.gofundme.com/aujvp-evelyn    
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Evelyn
Lourdes
Las horas de la pasión
Baxter's water
Cantera / Golden Mile
Historic photo of Cantera in the 1990s
Historic photo of the area which is now Cantera, in the 1930s
San Juan history and geography
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  A woman in Cantera, San Juan tells us, “We are forgotten here. We are invisible.”
Community
Luis
At leisure
Shadows and dog
Middle school, closed
la puerta de una escuela
Solitary
Across the lagoon
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Cantera, one of the poorest areas in San Juan is in such close proximity to, and overlooks the “Golden Mile”, better known as the “Wall Street” of Puerto Rico.
Sewage in Cantera, San Juan, PR
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  During the hurricane, the structure of the basketball court fell onto the apartment building. Since then, the city has done nothing to alleviate the building from withstanding the weight of the fallen structure. The apartments are in darkness during the day, forcing the residents to use generators for light. More seriously, is the water and pigeon feces seeping into the homes causing severe respiratory problems for many. Cantera, San Juan
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  During the hurricane, the structure of the basketball court fell onto the apartment building. Since then, the city has done nothing to alleviate the building from withstanding the weight of the fallen structure. The apartments are in darkness during the day, forcing the residents to use generators for light. More seriously, is the water and pigeon feces seeping into the homes causing severe respiratory problems for many. Cantera, San Juan.
It's blocking the light
Waiting
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Dona, as she’s known in the Cantera community, recounts the day hurricane Maria Hit.  “My husband held me in our bed and said, this is it. We had a good life, I love you”. 
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Due to the structure of the basketball court resting on the apartment buildings, rainwater mixed with pigeon feces constantly trickles into the apartments causing severe respiratory problems. Cantera, San Juan.
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Dona opens the powerless fridge to show us that there is nothing there but a few baby cockroaches. They have no money to buy excess food, and no money to keep the generator going to power the fridge. Cantera, San Juan.   
 Photo credit:  Dona shows us that she is given two bags of rice. That’s all the food she has in the house. She cannot have food that needs refrigeration because it too expensive to power the fridge using the generator. Cantera, San Juan.
Open for light
The whole building shook
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Dona's bedroom now has no natural light. She opens the shutters to show the fallen basketball structure against the side of her apartment which is the cause of darkness during the day. The overhead light is now used during the day from the generator, which costs her a lot of money. Cantera, San Juan. 
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Dona holds strong to her faith as she shows us the Rosary she held onto for hours during the hurricane. Cantera, San Juan
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Fallen trees from hurricane Maria have yet to be removed in Cantera, San Juan.
Irma came first
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Fallen poles have not been fixed, and more onimously, there is no telling when they will be repaired. Cantera, Puerto Rico   
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  A family in Cantera, San Juan.
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  An elderly woman looks on from her balcony amidst destruction caused by hurricane Maria. Cantera, San Juan.
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  The roof of his barber shop was taken in the hurricane. Now he and his team work on the street under a tent, using the electricity from their cars to power their tools. Cantera, San Juan
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  The main road into Orocovis was destroyed making it impossible for vehicles to go to or leave the city. Construction continues today. 
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Juan Hernandez, a truck driver living with his wife Denisse and two sons, is seen here working on rebuilding his home that he built just 10 years ago. The house was blown away with the hurricane and parts of the home can be seen in the hills. Orocovis, Puerto Rico
"Then the whole house blew into the valley"
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Juan wants to have his home rebuilt by next summer. They are running into problems, however. They paid for the materials two months prior and have received nothing. Meanwhile, the prices of materials continue to rise by the suppliers in the U.S. The Jones Act dictates that Puerto Rico cannot receive aid or materials from any other country other than the U.S. Orocovis, Puerto Rico   
Denisse and her son, Javier, at home
SOS-PR-102.jpg
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Juan’s wife Denisse, listens as her husband speaks of his hopes of rebuilding the home for his family. Orocovis, Puerto Rico
 Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls  Denisse stands on the clean white tile floor of her home. No roof, and the only remaining walls are a cinderblock cubicle where the bathroom was. As her family weathered Hurricane Maria in the nearby home of her in-laws, Denisse’s children watched their house lift off its foundation and plunge into the valley. Denisse ran a business from her house, so the equipment and supplies for her livelihood were lost with the house. The family is somewhat fortunate in that FEMA aid totals about $10,000. But, the estimate costs of rebuilding the home to be around $35,000. More troubling for the moment, though, is the fact that they ordered cinderblocks to begin rebuilding, and paid, in mid-November. The cinderblocks have yet to arrive, and they don’t know when they will. It is Denise’s understanding that FEMA has legal right to take any supplies that arrive in port, and she thinks maybe FEMA used their cinderblocks for something. Meanwhile, the price of basic building supplies has more than doubled on the island. She thinks maybe US suppliers (thanks to the Jones Act, all shipments of anything to Puerto Rico have to come from US suppliers in US ships) are hiking up prices of supplies to Puerto Rico.  UPDATE: in mid-February, 2018, the cinderblocks arrived. They came just a few days after electricity was restored on Denisse's entire street. 
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Jose and Denisse’s son, Javiel, 16, describes how he had to walk to the highway to receive cell phone signal multiple times a day for months after the hurricane. School was closed for two months after hurricane Maria hit. Orocovis, Puerto Rico
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  What remained of Juan and Denisse’s home after hurricane Maria hit on September 20th 2017. Orocovis, Puerto Rico
Skylight
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Water has been a significant problem in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. With water not having been restored for the majority of the island, many are forced to purchase bottle water not only for lack of access, but for safety purposes. Orocovis, Puerto Rico
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Denisse and her son, Xabdiel, 13, photographed on the remaining floor structure of their destroyed home. Orocovis, Puerto Rico
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Denisse uses the power from her car for her nail business that she runs from her home because the generator is very expensive. Orocovis, Puerto Rico
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Denisse uses the power from her car for her nail business that she runs from her home because the generator is very expensive. Orocovis, Puerto Rico
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Juan and his sons sit at the table of their temporary home. They will live here until their home is rebuilt. Orocovis, Puerto Rico
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Juan's parents, Margarita and Juan Hernandez describe the day of Hurricane Maria. All of their children and grandchildren stayed together and she saw her son's home blow away. Orocovis, Puerto Rico
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  The Hernandez Family at the local Church. Orocovis, Puerto Rico
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Margarita Hernandez receiving communion. Orocovis, Puerto Rico
Javier
Cristo, II
Orocovis, 5pm
Orocovis, 5am
Breakfast in Orocovis
Jojo sings
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Grise (far right) sits at the table with her mother and sister while her nephew finishes breakfast from a paper plate. At the time this was photographed, there was no running water and so eating from disposable utensils saved the purchased water. Orocovis, Puerto Rico
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  Children play in the river that was described as having heights of at least 20 feet high during Hurricane Maria. Orocovis, Puerto Rico
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) packages are sent to the homes along with canned foods. Orocovis, Puerto Rico
Phone
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  “Puerto Rico no esta apago” – Puerto Rico is not shutting down. The campaign was started by Puerto Rican actor and stand up comedian to raise money for supplies such as food and books for those in need in Puerto Rico.
 Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro  “Puerto Rico no esta apago” – Puerto Rico is not shutting down. The campaign was started by Puerto Rican actor and stand up comedian to raise money for supplies such as food and books for those in need in Puerto Rico.
Next in line
Paper map to reach Jayuya

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Our first two days in Puerto Rico, we travelled about two hours from San Juan to the small town of Jayuya, deep in the mountains of the island. If you can read topographical maps, you can see that the mountains here are steep, and the roads wind precariously along their sides. The topography was just one of the challenges after the hurricane hit – those winding roads were covered over in places with mudslides, or washed away entirely into the deep valleys. The map was necessary for our trip, even with our fixer traveling with us, because cell service isn’t reliable due to towers lost during the storm so GPS and the map programs on our phones were no help. 

The Social Worker

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Escuela Superior Josefina León Social Worker, Lourdes Bennett
 

Yoilmary

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Yoilmary, 15, recently moved back from Pennsylvania with her mother, months before the hurricane. She recounts with a smile, the devastation she experienced on September 20th 2017 as the roof of her grandmothers house was torn away. The hardest part she said was not knowing for days what happened to her friends and family.

Three who lost their homes

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

What we often take for granted, Jeimarie (far right) Glerysbeth (middle), and Edwin (like many of their friends) do not. A home, a “simple” roof over our heads, school books, uniforms, food and water. How in a matter of hours, everything can be taken from you, and the ripple effect is everlasting. They no longer have a home, Maria took that away and so much more. Listening to their stories, and the strength in their voices as they spoke of fear and destruction was as heartbreaking as it was inspiring. They came together to go on. There is much to be done in Jayuya, but their courage and fortitude as a community keeps them moving forward.

Glerysbeth

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Glerysbeth tells us of the ongoing hardships her family continues to endure. Her mother has suffered from repeated miscarriages and has difficulty finding work. The hurricane has exacerbated the family worries, as now they have no home.

Rosalinda

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Rosalinda lost her home in its entirety and had nowhere to go. Her parents put a roof on the house because they wanted to return home even though it was in poor condition. Now she lives in her grandmother's house as FEMA did not help them rebuild their home. She continues to go to school, but her parents are looking for another place to live in Puerto Rico for better opportunities.

Josue, 15

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Josue, 15, smiles as the school social worker asks how his family is doing. His home was badly damaged in the hurricane and is still without a roof, protected by the ubiquitous blue tarps. Because of damage to roads throughout Jayuya, the school bus can no longer reach his house, so Josue walks part of the way to a spot the bus can reach. His trip to school is now 45 minutes each way. 

The New Roads

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

In the mountains of Jayuya, the roads have been devastated by Hurricane Maria. Landfalls have made some roads impassable.

Luis's Reflection

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Escuela Superior Josefina León School Counselor, Luis Pérez Soto,describes the destruction he witnessed the day after the hurricane. Luis, along with the staff at Escuela Superior Josefina Leon walked many miles after the hurricane settled to make sure the students and family in the community were safe. During the days, weeks and months after the hurricane, Luis and the staff also helped many families to secure the tarps on blown off roofs. 

Save our souls

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

In the days following Hurricane Maria, kids from Jayuya, Puerto Rico, climbed to the top of the mountain above their homes and wrote this message in hopes that National Guard helicopters would see, and bring food, water, and help. The families here walked on foot over steep mountain roads buried by mudslides and broken trees to check on one another. When food ran low, they shared with each other. At the time of our visit, four months after the hurricane, only a few homes have safe water. Most homes still have no electricity, and running generators is costly. There's no guess how much longer it will be. The needs, like the spray paint, are as fresh and stark as they were in September.

Cristo

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls 

A mere hundred yards from the scrawled SOS, a cross, and Christ's arms extended toward heaven. In Puerto Rico, evidences of faith are ever present. 

Road bed revealed by flooded river

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

The road alongside this creek was washed away when the creek flooded violently in the hours following the hurricane. Beneath the asphalt, a roadbed from a past century. 

Josue's house

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Under the midday sun, tinted by the blue FEMA tarps stretched over the entire house, a mattress leans against a wall, slowly drying after being soaked by the salty hurricane rains. Because supplies (and the money to pay for them) are slow to reach the isolated mountain towns, many homes are still without roofs - and next hurricane season is only five months away. 

Looking in on the past

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

In the home of Jose, a student at Escuela Superior Josefina León, the mattress and furniture are pushed against the wall for protection. It has remained this way since the day of the hurricane.

FEMA's Housecalls

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) leaves a note on the door letting the occupants know they have come, and often times, FEMA does not return. 

No pase

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

“Don’t Pass”. This bridge in Jayuya collapsed disrupting road access for many. Without hesitation, the people of the community came together to rebuild the bridge.

Elizabeth and her son, Jesus

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

In a hallway of their home, now open to the elements, Elizabeth stands with her son Jesus. Jesus has brain cancer, and didn't go to school today because he was talking about taking his own life. Both Jesus and his mom have symptoms of depression. Behind Jesus, a generator in the living room provides electricity for some light at night, and charges cell phones even though service is spotty in the mountains. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Jesus is 15 years old with brain cancer. He is suicidal and his mother fears that the reason for his sickness stems from the position of their home near a cellular tower. Three quarters of her home was destroyed and FEMA has given her just $3,000.00 to repair her home. She wanted to use the money to build a new home far from the tower, but FEMA will allow her to use the money only for this home.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Jesus' mother has two other daughters, aged 4 and 10. She stands where her kitchen once was and she tells us of her everyday fear that her 4 year old will fall from the unsecured area.

Elizabeth

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Standing on her porch beside the empty space where her kitchen used to be, Elizabeth Agosto González says goodbye to the social worker and counselor from Escuela Josefina León Zayas, where her son Jesus attends high school. They visited her on this morning, because her son was speaking of taking his life. Elizabeth called the school, and they came. Elizabeth has two other children, daughters ages 10 and 4. She is afraid her 4 year old will fall off of the open floor where the kitchen was ripped away when Maria passed over. She is worried because the $3000 she has been approved for will not pay for all the necessary repairs anyway. She is worried that repairs can’t be completed before next hurricane season. Everyone in Jayuya is already worried about next season. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

“Jayuya the City of the Tomato.” Jayuya boats the best tomatoes in Puerto Rico. The quality is believed to be superior because the tomatoes are sweet. Sadly, hurricane Maria took all of the tomato and banana crops. The farmers have had to purchase and replant these crops, but with the impending hurricane season, many are fearful that the once stable source of food and income, will not mature before June. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

In Jayuya where power is still not restored, there are cellular “hot spots” where people gather to get cell phone service. Driving, you will also see a random area with lots of cars parked closely together. This is a sign that there is a hot spot close by. 

Clouds for a roof

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

All that remains of this home is the parts made of cinderblock, and what was too heavy or too small to blow away. The family that lived here is living now with relatives next door. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

A home destroyed by hurricane Maria and left in the same state of despair since September 20th 2017

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

She has 4 children (one photographed on the bike and another in the car). The home she lives in was originally owned by her grandmother. She grew up in the same home, and before the hurricane, her family lived there. It was flattened by the hurricane, and because she has no official title to the home, FEMA will not give her money to fix a home that is not hers.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Portrait of a mom of 4 who lost her home in the hurricane.

The home she lives in was originally owned by her grandmother. She grew up in the same home, and before the hurricane, her family lived there. It was flattened by the hurricane. Because she has no official title to the home, FEMA will not give her money to fix a home that is not hers.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Portrait of a girl who lost her home in the hurricane

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Amalia Rosario is a baker and provides for the family. Hurricane Maria took away the stove and parts of her home where all her utensils were. She no longer has the equipment to bake and provide for her family. Jayuya, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Amalia's daughter is home from school early because the electricity and water that had been temporarily restored, had cut out once again. The disruption for not only the parents of the families, but for the children's education is something that is felt throughout Puerto Rico. Many children are worried about entering university because of missed exams due to schools being closed for long periods of time. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro 

Four months post Hurricane Maria, power is still out here, and this is a common sight. Generators are expensive to buy, and even more expensive to run, costing up to $700-1000 per month. Rather, many run electricity from their car batteries. The problem with this, is that it only gives power for about 30-60 minutes, and then the battery has to be recharged, and this can be done by a generator, which in turn adds to the raising cost of using the generator. 

Signal

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

A recurring theme among the teens was desire for cell service to return to normal. This middle school girl tries to get a signal to talk with her friends. School is out each day at noon for them because there is no electricity at the school. There is none at home either. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Yolanda Perez makes a coffee by lamp as she recounts the morning of the hurricane. She tells us that her son died a few months before the hurricane, and she had not been in his room since his death. The hurricane forced her and eight others into his room because it was the only safe place.  

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

During the hurricane, a mudslide tore through this house leaving a gaping hole in the back and the front. The woman living here, Evelyn, and her husband were taken by the mud. Evelyn’s husband died, while Evelyn lost her leg.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

There was mud splattered everywhere on the walls during the mudslide. Dirt was piled high on the ground, the fridge was overturned, yet the cooking pot on the stove with a spoon remained in tact. When we met the woman who lived in this house, she recounted the story which included the loss of her leg, as well as her husband. Throughout the heartbreaking story, she smiled, constantly remind us and herself, that she was in the hands of God. That she had angles around her as she was stuck in the mud, opened to the elements of hurricane Maria for four hours. Despite her ordeal, and the continued strife she faces, she believes in the higher power.

Evelyn's things

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

The mudslide broke through the window of the back wall of the house, where the bedroom was. The force of the flow of mud broke the wall between the bedroom and bathroom, and careened through to the front of the house, sweeping Evelyn and her husband away. Her husband did not survive. Evelyn, however, survived 3-4 hours trapped in mud and exposed to the storm. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

The devastation left behind in this home after a mudslide tore through it during hurricane Maria.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

The exterior of the home after the mudslide ripped through it.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Evelyn recounts the morning of September 20th in great detail. She and her husband were in their home when, without warning, a mudslide ripped through the house. She was taken immediately and was buried in the mud up to her chest for hours, completely open to the elements of the hurricane. It was only when help could arrive after hearing her, did she realize her husband did not make it. Subsequently Evelyn lost her leg, and continues to receive medical treatment for her leg, arm and head. 
A gofund me page has been set up to assist Evelyn: https://www.gofundme.com/aujvp-evelyn
 

Photo Credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Evelyn recounts the morning of September 20th in great detail as she shows us her leg. She and her husband were at their home when, without warning, a mudslide ripped through the house. She was taken immediately and was buried in the mud up to her chest for hours, completely open to the elements of the hurricane. It was only when help could arrive after hearing her, did she realize her husband did not make it. Subsequently Evelyn lost her leg, and continues to receive medical treatment for her leg, arm and head. 
A gofund me page has been set up to assist Evelyn: https://www.gofundme.com/aujvp-evelyn

 

Evelyn

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Lourdes

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Lourdes Bennett is the lead social worker at Escuela Josefina León Zayas, the high school in Jayuya. It’s an exemplary school, blessed with a uniquely committed director and staff. In this moment, Lourdes comforts her friend, Evelyn, a special education teacher who lost her leg, and her husband, when a mudslide crashed through her house as Hurricane Maria ravaged the mountain town. Lourdes’s heart is for her community, and she credits her father for teaching her to be strong in the face of adversity. In these last four months she has worked tirelessly to catalog and meet the pressing needs of the students in her school, their families, and their neighbors. Evelyn’s miraculous survival may seem the more amazing story; but to me, Lourdes’s unwavering strength and evident compassion are the emblems of the people of Jayuya. No one came to save them, they had to save each other.

Las horas de la pasión

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Evelyn explained that during the 3-4 hours she was trapped in the mud from the mudslide that destroyed her home, she kept her spirit strong by recalling the hours of Christ's passion, in which he suffered torment and crucifixion. In recalling Christ's torment she found strength to endure until neighbors heard her cries through the wind, and came to dig her free. A visitor to her beside during her recovery brought this book to her, which she has been reading throughout her slow healing process. 

Baxter's water

Baxter Pharmaceuticals' manufacturing plant is one of Jayuya's biggest employers. Some of those we talked to suspected that a few of Jayuya's downtown buildings regained power when they did was due to pressure from the mainland US company. We were told that in the days following the hurricane, people in town had asked Baxter to share the potable water in this tank, and they would not. 

Cantera / Golden Mile

The Cantera neighborhood in San Juan, PR. Standing on a hill in Cantera, you can look out over the community of low, close buildings and narrow streets where the poorest residents of San Juan make their homes. City services are never adequate in the best of times, and the post-Maria “new normal” hits this community even harder than most. Built largely in land reclaimed from the lagoon and the Martin Pena Canal, Cantera lies just to the north of San Juan’s “Golden Mile”, the financial district home to international banking offices, prestigious law and trading firms. This photo captures the two extremes of money and prospects in San Juan.

Historic photo of Cantera in the 1990s

This photo hangs in a conference room in the offices of the Cantera Community Development Company, beside another overhead image of the same area from the 1930s. You can see how the once wide canal has been hemmed in with homes, and the slum has encroached on the shores of the lagoon. Throughout the 1900s, the poor settled in the marginal areas in and around San Juan. Cantera today is one of San Juan's poorest, and most dangerous neighborhoods. Efforts to help businesses take root and create opportunities for residents are often hindered by lack of municipal resources, and negligence toward the residents on the part of San Juan government. 

Historic photo of the area which is now Cantera, in the 1930s

This photo hangs in a conference room in the offices of the Cantera Community Development Company, beside another overhead image of the same area in the 1990s. In this earlier photo, the Martin Pena Canal is wide and the lagoon has a shoreline. The same area in the 1900s shows the canal pinched to a trickle and the small alleyways and tight quarters of the Cantera slum. 

San Juan history and geography

Luis Cintrón, director of the Cantera Community Development Company describes the growth of the Cantera neighborhood before taking us in to meet and photograph with residents. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

A woman in Cantera, San Juan tells us, “We are forgotten here. We are invisible.”

Community

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Part of the work Luis Cintrón does as executive director of Proyecto Peninsula de Cantera is building and strengthening community connections. Resident interest in the betterment of the neighborhood waxes and wanes - many who were energetic in past years have aged, and it is a constant challenge to interest younger men and women in the kind of work and investment necessary to turn the tide in this impoverished neighborhood. 

Luis

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

A resident of the Cantera neighborhood in San Juan pauses in the midst of repairs to his home to greet Luis Cintrón, Executive Director of Proyecto Peninsula de Cantera, a community development organization for the neighborhood. He asks Luis, “Can you help me reach FEMA? They haven’t come back.” Residents of Cantera are among the poorest in San Juan, and they hold out little hope that either Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority or federal agencies will remember them. And even if they do come to restore power, Luis explained to us, many of the buildings are not up to code, and some people's homes are connected illegally, so access to electricity remains a problem, even when power is finally restored.

At leisure

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Old men sit outside a market, enjoying the sunshine on a warm January afternoon, in the Cantera neighborhood of San Juan, PR. 

Shadows and dog

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

One thing you can't help notice in Puerto Rico is the dogs. Everyone seems to have one, and then there are a few more for good measure.  This puppy approaches as we walk the narrow streets of the Cantera slum in San Juan. 

Middle school, closed

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

A middle school in the Cantera neighborhood in San Juan, closed since September 20, 2017. Someone posted a hand lettered sign to the locked gate: “He who opens the door of a school closes a prison.” The displaced students attend classes at another school nearby - a school holding more than double it’s capacity of kids. The host school is an elementary school, so the older kids and younger kids have to share the younger kids’ space. It is a less than ideal situation with no end in sight.

la puerta de una escuela

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

“The one who opens the door of a school, closes the door of a prison”.Close up of the sign on the middle school, closed now for 4+ months. 

Solitary

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

A teenager walks alone through an alleyway in Cantera, toward the housing project. Though prospects for young people in Cantera might seem bleak, we did speak with one mother who has put her two sons through school in the US - one is now in criminal justice and one is finishing a neurosurgery residency. There is as much human potential in Cantera as anywhere else, though conditions here are truly third-world. 

Across the lagoon

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

On the site of a municipal basketball court, destroyed by Hurricane Maria in September 2017, looking across the lagoon from the poor neighborhood of Cantera toward the expensive beach condos of the north shore of San Juan. Shortly before our January visit to this area, the trash from neighborhood cleanup had been piled several feet high. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Cantera, one of the poorest areas in San Juan is in such close proximity to, and overlooks the “Golden Mile”, better known as the “Wall Street” of Puerto Rico.

Sewage in Cantera, San Juan, PR

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

The entire neighborhood of Cantera rests on a peninsula wrested from the Laguna Los Corozos and the Martin Peña Canal. Because the ground lies below the water table, the septic system is vacuum based, rather than gravity based. When the power goes out, the vacuums go out, and sewage back flows into the streets. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

During the hurricane, the structure of the basketball court fell onto the apartment building. Since then, the city has done nothing to alleviate the building from withstanding the weight of the fallen structure. The apartments are in darkness during the day, forcing the residents to use generators for light. More seriously, is the water and pigeon feces seeping into the homes causing severe respiratory problems for many. Cantera, San Juan

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

During the hurricane, the structure of the basketball court fell onto the apartment building. Since then, the city has done nothing to alleviate the building from withstanding the weight of the fallen structure. The apartments are in darkness during the day, forcing the residents to use generators for light. More seriously, is the water and pigeon feces seeping into the homes causing severe respiratory problems for many. Cantera, San Juan.

It's blocking the light

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

A resident of Cantera community, one of the poorest areas of San Juan, stands on her balcony to show us where the municipal basketball court metal roof has fallen against her building. It crashed over during the hurricane and remains to this day. It blocks the light to her porch, where she likes to sit with her brother and have coffee in the morning. Since she is also still without electricity, the daylight is longed for. Her community is in the middle of Puerto Rico’s beautiful capital, but she says they are forgotten. The city has not come to help them. In a neighborhood already overlooked, it seems unlikely that Puerto Rico’s limited recovery resources will reach these people soon.

Waiting

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Her community is in the middle of Puerto Rico’s beautiful capital, but she says they are forgotten. The city has not come to help them. In a neighborhood already overlooked, it seems unlikely that Puerto Rico’s limited recovery resources will reach these people soon.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Dona, as she’s known in the Cantera community, recounts the day hurricane Maria Hit.  “My husband held me in our bed and said, this is it. We had a good life, I love you”. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Due to the structure of the basketball court resting on the apartment buildings, rainwater mixed with pigeon feces constantly trickles into the apartments causing severe respiratory problems. Cantera, San Juan.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Dona opens the powerless fridge to show us that there is nothing there but a few baby cockroaches. They have no money to buy excess food, and no money to keep the generator going to power the fridge. Cantera, San Juan.

 

Photo credit:

Dona shows us that she is given two bags of rice. That’s all the food she has in the house. She cannot have food that needs refrigeration because it too expensive to power the fridge using the generator. Cantera, San Juan.

Open for light

In a dark apartment in the Cantera neighborhood in San Juan, a resident pets his cat. The gate at the door keeps her inside while the front door is left open to let the light in. They have been four months without power, and only using the generator a few hours after dark each night to conserve money. 

The whole building shook

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

A Cantera resident describes the moment during Hurricane Maria when the municipal basketball court next to her apartment block crashed into her building. "My husband was in the bed with me, with his arms around me. We heard a crash and the whole building shook.  He held me and said, 'This is the end!'"

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Dona's bedroom now has no natural light. She opens the shutters to show the fallen basketball structure against the side of her apartment which is the cause of darkness during the day. The overhead light is now used during the day from the generator, which costs her a lot of money. Cantera, San Juan. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Dona holds strong to her faith as she shows us the Rosary she held onto for hours during the hurricane. Cantera, San Juan

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Fallen trees from hurricane Maria have yet to be removed in Cantera, San Juan.

Irma came first

A backyard in Cantera, San Juan, with a tree that was knocked down during Hurricane Irma, which hit parts of Puerto Rico just two weeks before Hurricane Maria devastated the whole island. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Fallen poles have not been fixed, and more onimously, there is no telling when they will be repaired. Cantera, Puerto Rico

 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

A family in Cantera, San Juan.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

An elderly woman looks on from her balcony amidst destruction caused by hurricane Maria. Cantera, San Juan.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

The roof of his barber shop was taken in the hurricane. Now he and his team work on the street under a tent, using the electricity from their cars to power their tools. Cantera, San Juan

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

The main road into Orocovis was destroyed making it impossible for vehicles to go to or leave the city. Construction continues today. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Juan Hernandez, a truck driver living with his wife Denisse and two sons, is seen here working on rebuilding his home that he built just 10 years ago. The house was blown away with the hurricane and parts of the home can be seen in the hills. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

"Then the whole house blew into the valley"

Gorge King translates the story of Juan Rivera, whose house in Orcovis, Puerto Rico, was completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria. "We were next door, at my parent's house. We saw the wind lift the entire house off the foundation, and then the whole house blew into the valley."

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Juan wants to have his home rebuilt by next summer. They are running into problems, however. They paid for the materials two months prior and have received nothing. Meanwhile, the prices of materials continue to rise by the suppliers in the U.S. The Jones Act dictates that Puerto Rico cannot receive aid or materials from any other country other than the U.S. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

 

Denisse and her son, Javier, at home

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Denisse Hernández stands on the tile floor of her home, on the four month anniversary of Hurricane Maria. Her 15 year old son Javi rests against the only remaining walls of the house - the cinderblock walls enclosing the bathroom. Behind them, a breathtaking valley outside Orocovis, Puerto Rico. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Juan’s wife Denisse, listens as her husband speaks of his hopes of rebuilding the home for his family. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Denisse stands on the clean white tile floor of her home. No roof, and the only remaining walls are a cinderblock cubicle where the bathroom was. As her family weathered Hurricane Maria in the nearby home of her in-laws, Denisse’s children watched their house lift off its foundation and plunge into the valley. Denisse ran a business from her house, so the equipment and supplies for her livelihood were lost with the house. The family is somewhat fortunate in that FEMA aid totals about $10,000. But, the estimate costs of rebuilding the home to be around $35,000. More troubling for the moment, though, is the fact that they ordered cinderblocks to begin rebuilding, and paid, in mid-November. The cinderblocks have yet to arrive, and they don’t know when they will. It is Denise’s understanding that FEMA has legal right to take any supplies that arrive in port, and she thinks maybe FEMA used their cinderblocks for something. Meanwhile, the price of basic building supplies has more than doubled on the island. She thinks maybe US suppliers (thanks to the Jones Act, all shipments of anything to Puerto Rico have to come from US suppliers in US ships) are hiking up prices of supplies to Puerto Rico.

UPDATE: in mid-February, 2018, the cinderblocks arrived. They came just a few days after electricity was restored on Denisse's entire street. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Jose and Denisse’s son, Javiel, 16, describes how he had to walk to the highway to receive cell phone signal multiple times a day for months after the hurricane. School was closed for two months after hurricane Maria hit. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

What remained of Juan and Denisse’s home after hurricane Maria hit on September 20th 2017. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Skylight

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

The walls surrounding the bathroom remained intact when the rest of the house blew away. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Water has been a significant problem in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. With water not having been restored for the majority of the island, many are forced to purchase bottle water not only for lack of access, but for safety purposes. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Denisse and her son, Xabdiel, 13, photographed on the remaining floor structure of their destroyed home. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Denisse uses the power from her car for her nail business that she runs from her home because the generator is very expensive. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Denisse uses the power from her car for her nail business that she runs from her home because the generator is very expensive. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Juan and his sons sit at the table of their temporary home. They will live here until their home is rebuilt. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Juan's parents, Margarita and Juan Hernandez describe the day of Hurricane Maria. All of their children and grandchildren stayed together and she saw her son's home blow away. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

The Hernandez Family at the local Church. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Margarita Hernandez receiving communion. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Javier

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Javier Rivera, 15, stands alone on his grandparents' enclosed porch, with coffee and pan sobao. Javi told me he wants to study agriculture. He raises and trains a game cock, and adores the family's two small dogs. He said no one talks about the Hurricane much at school, they would rather talk about something else. 

Cristo, II

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

In Orocovis, in the geographical center of Puerto Rico, we joined neighborhood worshippers at Mass. A generator rumbled outside, in constant competition with the voices of the choir and supplicants, and constant reminder of the primary need: restoration of electricity. 

Orocovis, 5pm

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Outside of the small neighborhood church, as Mass drew to a close, the sun set, casting the outline of the mountains against the white walls of the church. The shadow of a cross decorating the church yard fence hovers over the generator powering lights and fans for parishioners inside. 

Orocovis, 5am

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

We visited the central Puerto Rico town of Orocovis, and stayed in the home of a family there, as we photographed with several people in the neighborhood. Around 5am, I woke to use the bathroom, and noticed the grandparents were already up, quietly starting their day before the rest of the family was awake, as grandparents often do. I quickly threw a sweatshirt over my pajamas, and grabbed my camera. They were reading by the light of their phones in the deep pre-dawn darkness. The generators that ran from dusk through half the night, had run out of gas some hours before, and were silent until the sun came up and someone would refill them with gasoline for the next evening.

Update: About two weeks after we visited them, we learned through their jubilant Facebook posts that a power company truck arrived on their street, and within a few hours they were celebrating the return of the light – regular electricity for the first time in 18 weeks. 

Breakfast in Orocovis

In the pre-dawn hours, Lourdes is awake making mondongo (tripe stew) for the family and visitors for breakfast. Her only light is from small battery-powered lanterns stuck around the kitchen.

Jojo sings

Jojo is Lourdes's cockateil, who sings when she waves her index finger in his face. Her young grandson mimics her motion.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Grise (far right) sits at the table with her mother and sister while her nephew finishes breakfast from a paper plate. At the time this was photographed, there was no running water and so eating from disposable utensils saved the purchased water. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Children play in the river that was described as having heights of at least 20 feet high during Hurricane Maria. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) packages are sent to the homes along with canned foods. Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Phone

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

Kids on their phones, staying in touch with friends and checking Facebook, was a recurring theme throughout our trip. Cell service was terrible in the days immediately after Hurricane Maria. Fortunately the various cell providers decided to share all towers together to ensure maximum coverage, improving communications for relief workers, military and medical services, and also for teenagers staying in touch with their friends. 

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

“Puerto Rico no esta apago” – Puerto Rico is not shutting down. The campaign was started by Puerto Rican actor and stand up comedian to raise money for supplies such as food and books for those in need in Puerto Rico.

Photo credit: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

“Puerto Rico no esta apago” – Puerto Rico is not shutting down. The campaign was started by Puerto Rican actor and stand up comedian to raise money for supplies such as food and books for those in need in Puerto Rico.

Next in line

Photo credit: Katie Jett Walls

A mother and her children stand in line for bags filled with water and canned goods, being handed out by a team of volunteers. The supplies came from donations made by Puerto Ricans living in the mainland US - collected by Puerto Rican radio host and stand up comedian Molusco as he toured US cities performing and accepting donations of non-perishable food and bottled water for the people on the island. They collected enough to fill *six* 53-foot shipping containers. Once the goods arrived in Puerto Rico, the team has been driving small moving trucks loaded with bagged goods, stopping in every town and handing out as many as they can before moving on. We happened to be in Orocovis when the truck arrived at the church and handed out the supplies.

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