Mara Nieves, 41, Urban Permaculture Farmer, La Perla

“It felt like we were on our own, off the grid, finding our own selves with our own help. You get a sense of the power that the community has in situations like that and how we can come together. We harvested malanga, tarot, and some of the ladies had cassava, sweet potato. We made a sancocho. And then we harvested the basil, which suffered greatly, but we were able to make pesto. We started a community kitchen. It’s how we survived.”

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Elba Oquendo Pizarro, 61, Healthcare Activist, Vieques

“You cannot imagine the terror and the fear for our lives. The hurricane whistled loudly, the house trembled, windows sputtered and were wanting to come out of their frame. My friend and I spent the entire time on our knees praying for our lives.  For two weeks I cried everyday just seeing the destruction not just of my home, but the entire island.”

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Ruben Ramos, 71, farmer, Utuado

“A neighbor committed suicide weeks after the storm. With no electricity, no food, and no help or hope, he became despondent drove to the lake. His daughter and others would come help, cook for him or bring food but he was not able to hold on. It’s been rough.”

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Tuntun, 56, coconut vendor, Playa Fortuna

“The day after the hurricane there were coconuts everywhere. For months we had no fresh water, so we drank coconut water and ate flesh. But business dried up and the coconuts went rancid. The sea flooded the roads. Also, there was no ice to cool the fruit. People here like to drink their cocos nice and cold.”

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