Report from Puerto Rico: Bucket showers, blocked streets

Maria Luisa Ayala, a 69-year-old retired medical secretary who lives with her husband in Toa Alta, a small town 30 minutes outside San Juan, said the direct hit Hurricane Maria delivered left the island “paralyzed.” Ayala, who spoke to the Herald’s Jordan Frias from her car — the only place she can get a signal on her cellphone — described how she and her husband are forced to shower using a bucket and only recently got water and milk from a nearby supermarket.

It’s really pretty bad here. We’ve got no electricity, no water, there’s lack of communication … Most people don’t have food or clothing and the streets are blocked because we’re not able to move trees that fell down in the hurricane … The garbage hasn’t been picked up by the city and that’s a big problem … Ever since the hurricane began it hasn’t been picked up, which means two weeks of trash has not been picked up and it will begin to pile up pretty soon, which will cause health problems with flies and rats … The problem is the gasoline … Some people have been waiting 10 to 12 hours and then they say they don’t have any and people have to go back the next day … We don’t leave the house. Yesterday, fortunately, we were able to get money out but many of the ATMs are not working, and some of the supermarkets have food you can buy, but if you don’t have cash there is nothing you can do.

We didn’t know we had so many houses around us because there were so many trees but now we have no trees … It’s really sad because I love trees and vegetation and my garden is gone … it just looks sad and it’s like we have to start all over again. Soon we’re going to be out of food … we have enough for three or four more days … so we have to start looking for that …

We are hardworking people. It’s not like what Trump is saying, that we are lazy people and that we are only waiting for the government … We are hardworking and we get up … we will recover … in 1928 we had a hurricane that was bigger than this one that our fathers and grandfathers lived through and that was during the Depression and they recovered.

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