Advertisement
World & Nation

Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO--SEPT. 2
Boys play basketball in near darkness in the La Perla area of San Juan, Puerto Rico, which has no electricity after being battered by Hurricane Maria.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Hurricane Maria left a wide swath of devastation last week in Puerto Rico. From the southern coast, across the mountainous interior to the northern capital, the island of 3.4 million people saw roofs ripped away and homes flooded.

In San Juan’s coastal La Perla neighborhood, made famous as the backdrop for the music video of the hit song “Despacito,” neighbors banded together to salvage what they could, gathered on street corners at night to comfort one another, played basketball and blared salsa music using a communal generator.

Across town at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum, hundreds of people spontaneously broke into prayers and songs to celebrate their survival. But they also wondered what would come next as they stared out at the destroyed cars, shuttered stores and dark streets of their battered city, still without electricity or running water.

Francisco Santiago Torres and his wife, Suzette Vega Rozas, say they felt more comfortable being in the shelter than at their home in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Francisco Santiago Torres and his wife, Suzette Vega Rozas, say they felt more comfortable being in the shelter than at their home in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Sonia Viruet, 61, who lives in the La Perla neighborhood, takes stock after Hurricane Maria caused widespread damage across Puerto Rico.
Sonia Viruet, 61, who lives in the La Perla neighborhood, takes stock after Hurricane Maria caused widespread damage across Puerto Rico. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Ivan Lopez, 51, chips in to to help his neighbors. His home was not as badly damaged, so he plans to stay despite the lack of water and electricity.
Ivan Lopez, 51, chips in to to help his neighbors. His home was not as badly damaged, so he plans to stay despite the lack of water and electricity. "I was born here; I'll die here," Lopez said. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

Twitter: @mollyhf

ALSO

In one Puerto Rico mountain town, a wall of mud came crashing down

After Hurricane Maria, 'Puerto Rico isn’t going to be the same'

'Fuerza Mexico': Earthquake has been the engine of a newfound national solidarity


Newsletter
Get our Today's Headlines newsletter
Advertisement