I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support and the offers to ship supplies to my neighborhood in Puerto Rico. It is greatly appreciated, but there is no mail or delivery service operating, so any shipments would just be backed up with the rest of the supplies that have supposedly been delivered but have not been distributed.
Hurricane Maria stripped every tree of its leaves, leveled most of the plants and strewed debris everywhere. It's only been a few days and the leaves are beginning to return. What looked like a nuclear devastated wasteland is beginning slowly to turn green again.
The major highways have been cleared, though light poles and power poles that were weakened continue to fall. We have to drive with extra caution, but for the most part normal flows of traffic are returning. The smaller roads that have not been cleaned by crews have at least one lane open, as people hop out of their cars with machetes and hand saws to cut a path when they need to get through.
AT&T and T-Mobile still do not have working towers except in San Juan, and now one in Caguas. It's nigh to impossible to get a data connection. The local cell phone company, Claro, has just today started sharing their towers to other carriers. With a Claro signal, we are able to send text messages and sometimes make a phone call. We cannot get data, so there's still no Twitter, iMessage, WhatsApp, or FB Messenger unless we go all the way to San Juan, but we can now get a Claro signal much closer to home (30 minute drive).
Unfortunately we have lost all of the solar fields and the windmills have all been damaged. The giant blades were shredded or just broke off completely, so our sources of renewable energy are gone. Municipal power seems to be returning in parts of San Juan and spreading slowly to the south and the east. It will be a long time before we get power all the way in Naguabo.
As I'm fortunate to have a very fuel efficient and working car, I have been running essential errands for neighbors. Some stores are open with running generators and even a few restaurants are open, but serving takeout only. Supplies are not being replenished, so as each establishment runs out, they close up the shutters again.
For as challenging as it is (still getting up at 3AM to wait for gas), people seem to be accepting this new normal. Everywhere I have been in line, people have been friendly and we all chat. I have yet to fear for my safety in any situation, though I am constantly on guard.
Gas is at a premium, and we're hearing a lot of reports of it being siphoned out of parked cars. Water is also becoming more scarce. Where we were getting running water about every day for at least a little while, we've now been without for a number of days.
We're seeing military convoys on the highway from time to time, but it always appears to be empty trucks. We haven't seen Red Cross with any more supplies either.
A lot of people are talking about trying to leave the island as soon as possible, especially those with children as the schools are closed and there's no telling when they'll reopen. Transportation to and from the island is very limited.
My next door neighbor passed away and as my phone is working when I get to San Juan, it's being used to coordinate with family who are desperate to get to the island, but even those with connections through TSA, with military clearance, Veterans, and what not are being turned away. Dealing with a death under normal circumstances is difficult and time consuming. Under the current circumstances, it's incredibly difficult. Funeral homes and crematoriums are still backlogged from the outages after Hurricane Irma, and now without communication, we have to visit the funeral home in order to get information and times keep getting pushed further out.
Banners are being made from bed sheets and hung on overpasses with sayings like, "We're still standing," "Puerto Rico is strong, and "We will be born again."
Even through the devastation, the pain, the depression, the anxiety, and everything else, this is a wonderful place to be and I do not regret my decision to move here in any way.