Thought I’d share (with permission) an update from my friend Marisol’s dad on the island. Just to note, typed out on a phone in the few areas he gets signal, so pardon any typos, etc.
Puerto Rico recovery & inspiration - part 8
This may be the last narrative for now.
We all have a lot to do with the "Seeds of Hope " which you are all sending.
Thank you and please don’t stop. (Note from Marisol: they’re also looking for the little pods that you can start the seeds in, as my mother is running workshops with people who bring them back to plant in their own communities in egg cartons, paper cups, etc, whatever they can find. She’s also working on planter boxes that can be made with materials available.) Thousands of seeds will be given to families, schools and community groups to help them feed themselves.
PS we may combine the Roots & Shoots International Peace Day with “Seeds of Peace.”
Thanks for your patience with my rambling. I didn’t plan on doing this much writing, it just took on a life of its own and helped me with this insane destruction.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria
50 days today since Hurricane Maria and still no power, water, communications over most of the island. All kinds of equipment from private, military & government agencies doing their best to remove thousands of tons of downed trees, buildings, power lines and broken poles, landslide debris.
Huge mountains of the remains of everything piling up in open fields. Giant chippers the size of locomotives grinding everything into pieces.
We are seeing police cars from New Jersey, moble generators and emergency equipment vehicles from Florida and Mississippi and many other states. New York City cops directing traffic freeing up local police for law enforcement.
Yesterday our town officers showed up at the farm. They are going house to house to see how everyone is doing.
Our neighborhood group organized a community cleanup.
Following are my own “Reasons for Hope,” to borrow Jane Goodall’s phrase.
Ordinary and extraordinary Heroes.
In many of the isolated towns and small communities in the interior of Puerto Rico the roads, bridges, homes and businesses are destroyed
Volunteers, both from the states and all over the island, are inventing ways to get food, water and rebuilding materials to them. Some are building makeshift bridges and zip lines to get across swollen rivers. Off road quads and 4x4’s are the only way through the destruction.
Most of the “visiting important people” either went to urban areas or flew over the island in helicopters or planes.
You don’t experience hunger, fear and hopelessness from 2000 feet up.
You need to see, hear and experience what is happening to hundreds of thousands of people who have lost everything.
You also need to meet the individuals who, in spite of having lost everything, are working to help others and saying that they are going to do whatever they can with what they have.
Their imagination and inventiveness in overcoming both physical and mental obstacles is incredible. Many people said the coming holiday season was going to be a miserable, sad time on an island that revels in the spirit of Christmas.
Puerto Ricans answered that by starting to celebrate NOW.
The lights may be candles vs electric but the traditional music, dancing, giving and worship, if anything, may be more like the old Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rican sports and celebrity figures like the Baseball players in the World Series and Olympic champions are helping in many ways.
When interviewed they respond, not as "famous people " but as home town men and women who love their battered land.
The motto here is “Puerto Rico rises.” (PuertoRico se levanta!)
With outside help? Of course. But also by their own hands and hard work.
Finally, as time has passed the harsh, bare brown, shattered mountains are slowly being covered by the soft green of new leaves and plants. The little Puerto Rican tree frogs (coquis) are singing and there’s a annoyed little crab sitting under the generator telling me to get lost!
Love & gracias to you all.
Rick & Nelly
If anyone is interested in donating seeds or planters to the Seeds of Hope project Rick is organizing in partnership with the Roots & Shoots initiative of the Jane Goodall institute, feel free to PM me for the PO Box (omitted from this post for privacy’s sake).