More Than Prayers: How the Diaspora Can Help Our Families in Puerto Rico 

Editors may cringe at this piece since it’s written in first person narration. The sinful editorial mistake is not without purpose, however. I have an ethical responsibility to publish unsolicited recommendations on how the Puerto Rican Diaspora can best help our loved ones, based on my personal experience and my own critical analysis. And while having a very basic training on survival tactics due to my former career as a flight attendant, I’m in no way a professional in any field dealing with emergency situations. Disclaimer aside, let’s proceed. 

Boricuas and communities in solidarity have been rattled the past few weeks with the threat of not one, but two category 5 hurricanes. While Puerto Rico dodged Irma’s savagery, María’s merciless punishment on the island proved to be one of catastrophic dimensions. As the Puerto Rican Diaspora suffered in spirit the wrath of Mother Nature against our beloved homeland, we united to take action without hesitation. As a result, we flooded cyberspace to score plane tickets and arrive promptly to aid, relief and rebuild. I was one of them. 

I grew up in El Conquistador, Trujillo Alto- a city between Carolina and Caguas- where my mother still resides. Our home borders el río and el lago Carraízo. We’ve never experienced flooding due to the house’s altitude, but with hurricane María anything was fair game. My siblings and I devised a strategic plan with my mom’s neighbors to keep her company; to help each other. All we had to do is hopelessly wait. In the wake of the aftermath, we didn’t hear from our cousins, nor the neighbors, let alone her. My brother, as military personnel, managed to get a next day plane ticket, but like every flight that week, it was canceled. So, I jumped on the opportunity to purchase the second Delta flight that managed to leave and arrive on time. Yes, I made it! Not so fast, my friends. Truth be told, it is brutal! 

It’s time to manage expectations based on reality, not just on media’s lackluster and somewhat fanatical coverage, let alone Trump’s towel-throwing, promotional-disturbing appearance. Cutting the chase, we need more than love for our people, prayers, plane tickets and suitcases full of life’s most treasured essentials. We’re resilient, so let’s always hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. To be aware of the worst case scenarios, here are my travel warnings. DO NOT GO to Puerto Rico: 

· If you aren’t willing or able to walk from the airport to your final destination. 

· If you have a medical condition that requires constant treatment, let alone medication that requires refrigeration. 

· If you have special dietary needs. 

· If you’re allergic to bees, wasps, insects, pollen, or anything that may trigger a severe anaphylactic shock. 

· If you require uninterrupted communication of any type. 

· If you, your family and/or your neighborhood don’t have equipment to clean up, remove debris, rebuild or do not know how to use it. 

· If you aren’t willing or able to make hours worth of lines under the scorching heat for gas, money, food and water. 

· If you don’t want to carry large amounts of cash. 

· If you aren’t willing or able to bring your own supplies, including but not limited to: solar powered chargers and generators, USB operated mini-fans, flashlights and other essentials. 

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