I call these my hurricane diaries.
We got shelter inside the refinery where we work after harassing one of the big bosses. But it’s only for two weeks, to give us time to look for a generator (inside the plant everything works). They give us one warm meal per day and one gas tank a week. I told [my partner] Danny one of us has to work here always, they took our family in because both of us work for them, they are going to have to take me out kicking and screaming the day we have to leave LOL. We have told all of our friends to come over and grab water and ice from our fridge and wash clothes. Santhia’s laundromat is been open for the past three days and already three families have come here to wash. I do one family per day.
No money in the world is good here right now, we have become a tribe of trade. School is opening on Monday—private schools, I mean. Let’s see how that goes without power. I say they are doing a soft opening to see how it goes LOL because they are doing 12-4pm [and not a full day].
Mom is sending us three boxes of provisions which I will share with my tribe. Today one of my best friends got charged $5 for one small bag of ice. That pisses me off! She needs to report them to consumer affairs... but guess what, it’s closed.
The Army took over officially, I saw them start yesterday. Man, was that a relief to see them and they looked all big and tough and armed. I wanted to hug them when I saw them. The curfew has been extended so the lines are shorter ’cause people have more time to do what they need. I was telling my friend Frances that I finally could make a phone call today. After Irma we were kinda ok, we had no power but we had roofs ’cause the ones that got it worst were St. Thomas and St. John. Then Maria came in for the kill on St. Croix where I am.
On Sept. 22, we went to get groceries. (We sometimes hang out with the Arabs that own a grocery store; they let us in through the back door so we can get first dibs.) When I saw what was left in the warehouse I asked them if they had a warehouse somewhere else and they said that was it. When I looked around it was big, but still that would have lasted two days. Then I asked them when the boats were coming. They said sometime next week that they didn’t know what day ’cause all was uncertain.
I spent our last $200 cash on food and the next three days I almost didn't eat, scared that we wouldn’t have enough food. I would eat whatever [my son] Maddox left on his plate and I had to keep Maddox’s snacking to two times a day and explain to him why. He is suffering—he is snack monster—but he understands. He is such an understanding human being, he also worries about other people and animals. I am beyond lucky.
Every day before we came into the plant we would shower by a friend’s house because Danny is germ phobic and doesn’t want us to shower with the light brown cistern water (even though that is what we had to use to wash dishes). A private story I want to share—but it is also our living situation—is that if we showered in the house with the cistern water Danny would make us wash our private parts with drinking water. To prevent infections, he said. I find that hilarious.
I would use drinking water to cook, but the mosquitoes and rats are are free and living in the debris that is everywhere.
It breaks my heart to see how the U.S. gets in everybody’s business in other countries but Mr. Trump is paying no attention to what is going on with his own citizens down here and in my Puerto Rico. I don’t know if you saw Trump’s visit. It was embarrassing and instead of taking him, I don’t know, by helicopter or something to see the actual devastation, they took him to Guyanabo. That is one of the towns that is doing best.
We are a strong breed. We have amazing talent, smarts, and athletes—all of this just makes us stronger. My coworker lost her roof and has a cascade pouring in her house every time it rains. And not once have I heard her complain or talk about it unless someone asks her. People are proudly clearing out their yards and the surroundings. Our children will know how to handle themselves in this situations if they ever have to go through this with their families.
But still, it sucks.
I just want somewhere to call home. I feel like a gypsy. Sleeping somewhere, showering somewhere else, hustling for basics like gas, food, ice, water. Now staying here, but only bringing a few clothes at a time ’cause it is not permanent and we don’t where we will go next.
And I just word that my house in San Juan got damaged—some windows and doors blew out so I have to go to PR at some point to deal with that, but I spoke to friend and he said not to come now ’cause I won’t get anything accomplished.
Maybe we’ll stay and see what we can do to rebuild this beautiful island. I am taking a collection of anything—food, flashlights, batteries, Pampers, feminine products, anything solar powered like cellphone chargers, lamps, etc. Yesterday I received the first boxes. But nobody can ship ice, which right now is like gold.
People here are leaving by the hundreds. All I see is moving sales everywhere. I just spoke to one of my best friends and she was in the ice line and said, “fuck it, I am leaving” and bought the tickets to leave with her three kids this Sunday. They are of Maddox’s best friends, it broke my heart. :(
So this is the summary for the Virgin Islands. I am like, “Man I need a vacation.”
Over and out,
Santhi, Maddox and Daniel