Tufts: Puerto Rico

Tufts Visual Journalism Students in Puerto Rico

In the summer of 2018, xxx students from Tufts University chose to report from the
battered island of Puerto Rico, still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma that made landfall on the
twentieth of September 2017. xxxxx GK TO EDIT XXXX

CODY EATON

Idle
Idle

An idle generator sits outside Wilson Reyes Rivera’s home, providing power to his mother’s house. Pellejas, Adjuntas, Puerto Rico.

San Juan Stoplights
San Juan Stoplights

Traffic lights remain dark in San Juan, Puerto Rico nine months after Hurricane Maria struck.

Solar Panels in G8 HQ
Solar Panels in G8 HQ

Additional solar panels await installation at the offices of G8 in Caño Martín Peña, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Generator, Sector Playita
Generator, Sector Playita

A generator sits sheltered outside a home in Sector Playita, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Solar in El Hoyo
Solar in El Hoyo

A solar installation from Casa Pueblo sits atop Maria Medina’s home in El Hoyo, Adjuntas, Puerto Rico.

Maria Medina
Maria Medina

Maria Medina received a solar installation to power her peritoneal dialysis machine. El Hoyo, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Solar Bank in the Kitchen
Solar Bank in the Kitchen

A temporary solar bank sits in Wilson Reyes Rivera’s kitchen. Pellejas, Adjuntas, Puerto Rico.

Roofless
Roofless

Wilson Reyes Rivera’s home, which had its roof blown off by Hurricane Maria. Pellejas, Adjuntas, Puerto Rico.

Riding Solo
Riding Solo

A girl rides her bike through the community of El Coquí, Salinas, Puerto Rico.

Idle
Idle

An idle generator sits outside Wilson Reyes Rivera’s home, providing power to his mother’s house. Pellejas, Adjuntas, Puerto Rico.

Downed Power
Downed Power

A downed power line hangs in front of the Aguirre Power Complex, the largest in Puerto Rico. Aguirre, Salinas, PR

Solar in El Coquí
Solar in El Coquí

A solar installation sits atop El Coquí Community Center in Salinas, Puerto Rico.

Adalberto Santiago
Adalberto Santiago

Adalberto Santiago stands in his kitchen, without power for nine months. Jácanas Granjas, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico

Riding Solo
Riding Solo

A girl rides her bike through the community of El Coquí, Salinas, Puerto Rico.

Useless
Useless

Adalberto Santiago’s refrigerator goes unused, as he now only keeps non-perishable food at home. Jácanas Granjas, Yabucoa, PR.

Downed Power
Downed PowerA downed power line hangs in front of the Aguirre Power Complex, the largest in Puerto Rico. Aguirre, Salinas, PR

Adalberto Santiago
Adalberto Santiago

Adalberto Santiago stands in his kitchen, without power for nine months. Jácanas Granjas, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico

Useless
Useless

Adalberto Santiago’s refrigerator goes unused, as he now only keeps non-perishable food at home. Jácanas Granjas, Yabucoa, PR.

KATLYN KREIE

Flying into San Juan, Puerto Rico, it is clear that the area is still dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Maria that hit the island in September 2017. Even now, 9 months later in June, the bright blue tarps that cover rooftops stand out from the landscape that surrounds them. What was placed as a temporary fix after the storm, still remains almost a full year later.

These temporary solutions are emblematic of the larger problem that Puerto Ricans faced after the hurricane: the feeling of not knowing what is going to happen next. Now, power has been restored to major metropolitan areas like San Juan, but in many rural areas, residents are still living without power. To add to this, several months after Maria, in April, the island suffered another island-wide blackout. Residents from San
Juan mentioned that occasionally the power would shut off and their access to running water would stop. The scarcity and precariousness of certain resources on the island is still a pervasive worry. In hotels and businesses, many rooms are equipped with numerous candles just in case the power goes out again.

Many Puerto Ricans do not have much faith in the government to provide the necessary resources to live their daily lives. This distrust in authority was enhanced when a news story broke in June that the government’s previous death toll estimate from the hurricane was grossly inaccurate. While the official death toll claimed 64 people had died during the storm, additional studies have concluded that the number is closer to 1,139 people and an estimated 4,000 that died because of the lack of water, electricity and medical aid. Upon
hearing of this new number, activists lined up pairs of shoes outside the capitol building in San Juan to represent the dead, while police officers stood outside to discourage any more protests.

The hurricane also encouraged many Puerto Ricans to move to the mainland. An estimated 6,000 Puerto Ricans reported address changes to the mainland United States post hurricane Maria. This rapid exodus of residents has caused local small businesses to suffer and local schools to close. One of the largest industries in Puerto Rico, tourism, has also suffered from the lack of tourists who wanted to visit based on the destruction shown on the news of post-hurricane Puerto Rico, despite the fact that many of tourist destinations are almost completely rebuilt. The departure of native Puerto Ricans and the lack of tourists coming to the island hurt the economy even more than the economic downturn the island faced before the hurricane.

Talking to locals of the island, one thing has remained consistent: the local assemblies of community organizers. Many communities have banded together to create community centers, community gardens and child care centers. Through the chaos of hurricane Maria and the disorder of the government aid, the diverse communities in Puerto Rico maintained their normal aid and activism.

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