Hurricane Maria didn’t hit the states, but it’s still hits home for students at St. Joe’s

According to the admissions office, there are 56 undergraduate students from Puerto Rico at Saint Joseph’s University. That is 1.2% percent of our very own community that has been directly affected by the damage, destruction, and loss brought on by Hurricane Maria.

Maria is the worst storm to hit the island in 85 years.The category three hurricane passed through Puerto Rico on Wednesday, September 20, leaving the island of more than 3 million American citizens without power. The Governor of the U.S. commonwealth, Ricardo Rossello, stated that it will most likely be 4-6 months before the Island regains power.

The best thing we can do for students in our community is raise awareness of the issue. While Puerto Rico is an important part of our country, many people forget that its residents are American citizens just as much as those born in the 50 states. They’re a part of our country, and they desperately need our help. As a school community, based on service and solidarity, it is important to continue to help our brothers and sisters in this time.

Video of the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria: ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaDh9Gvzffg

Here are stories of just a few students who have been impacted by Hurricane:

Beatriz Torre, Class of 2018

Beatriz, or Bea, as her friends call her, is from San Juan, Puerto Rico. She was born in the states, but grew up on the island with her mom, dad, and two younger sisters. Right now, Bea’s family has no power, no water, and no means of communication. She was able to speak with them on Wednesday, but there has not been any cell service since. Bea states that her backyard is destroyed, windows in her house were broken, and some water got in, but there was no serious damage. “Everyone is safe,” she says, “We were really lucky.”

Bea believes there was a lot of bias with the news forgetting about Puerto Rico during hurricane Irma, but she is happy to see there are more people talking about Maria. “The more people talk about Puerto Rico, the more people would be aware that we need help.”

Bea appreciates people reaching out and asking how she’s doing, and she wants to continue raising awareness and hopefully send products back home when everything settles down.

The more people talk about Puerto Rico, the more people would be aware that we need help”

Gabriela Perdomo, Class of 2020

Gabriela lives in Puerto Rico with her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins when she is not at school. She loves hanging out with her friends and going to the beach in San Juan, where she is from.

Her house is flooded with two inches of water. There is also a big puddle of water on the roof with cracks in the walls and windows. She also has a beach house in another town that she hasn’t heard about, due to the lack of cell service on the island.

Despite being anxious about her family’s safety and her home being damaged, Gabriela has been able attend all her classes and keep up with schoolwork. She notices that she has been distracted, however, due to constantly wondering how her family is doing.

She states that it is important to raise awareness of not only Puerto Rico, but the British Virgin Islands as well. She also asks that people be mindful of what she is going through when speaking to her. “How would you feel if it was your family going through something like this”, she states. She also encourages people to donate if they can. “I know that we’re college students, and we have tight budgets,” says Gabriela, “but even a few dollars goes a long way.”

Gabriela Reyes, Class of 2020

Gabriela is from San Juan, where she lives with her father, older brother, grandparents, and aunt. She loves to spend time with them when she’s home, whether its going out to eat or going to the beach. Her best friend also lives back home in San Juan.

She says that her house is okay. There are 3 or 4 inches of water, and a few fallen palm trees in her backyard, but everyone is safe. Her dad called her on Friday at 5 in the morning for the first time. She was so relieved to her from him, even though he told that they don’t have power or water. Gabriela says it’s been distracting, and that she is constantly checking her phone for updates. “It’s been so hard not being able to contact my family”, she says.

“How would you feel if it was your family going through something like this?”

Mayra Herrero, Class of 2018

Mayra is from San Juan where she lives with her parents and her brother, who also attended SJU. “Thankfully, my parents are fine,” she sighs. Her house suffered some flooding, which her parents described as minor. Although the pictures looked pretty bad, she said.

Mayra is anxious and having a tough time concentrating knowing that she can’t be with her family. “I keep thinking about wanting to be back home,” she says, “ to help and be with my family.”

Mayra appreciates messages asking if she’s doing okay, but she said it’s not enough. She hopes to spread awareness about the devastating effects of Maria, so Puerto Rico can get the help it needs.

How to Help

Puerto Rican college students across the country have set up a gofund.me with a goal to raise $50,000. Within the first three days, $16,000 has been raised.

The Puerto Rican students at SJU are going to host a fundraiser sometime next week, most likely a bake sale. Keep your eyes open outside of Campion during free period. They also hope to start collecting donations of products to send back such as bug spray and mosquito nets and jugs of water.

Being there for students in a time of need, even just hanging out with them to get their mind of things or offering to study with them can go a long way as well.

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