AGUADA, PUERTO RICO — A Little Rock native who moved to Puerto Rico this summer is thankful for her newfound community following Hurricane Fiona.
As of Wednesday night, more than 250,000 homes and businesses in Puerto Rico are still without power as the island recovers from Hurricane Fiona’s impact 10 days ago.
Hannah Perez, her husband, and two children finally went five days without running water and eight days with no electricity. She says she is luckier than the neighborhood next to her which is using a generator for water, and she says the next nearest town is still mostly without power too.
The winds and rain of Hurricane Fiona felt familiar for most Puerto Ricans, but not for Hannah Perez.
“I have lived here for three months now,” Perez explained
Recently moved from Little Rock, she’s used to tornadoes and winter storms, not 30 inches of rain over three days and wind just as persistent.
“Mudslides, landslides, roads were getting washed out all over the island,” Perez remarked. “Within the first day or two, (water) was already up to people’s windows.”
Fortunately, her family was on high ground but because of the recent move, they lacked necessities natives learned to live by like a gas oven.
“It is the longest I’ve ever been without power,” Perez said. “So cooking things was very difficult, and we had to get creative.”
All throughout her eight powerless days, nearby neighbors guided the Perez family through the disaster. According to Puerto Rican authorities claimed at least 16 lives. The storm came half a decade after Hurricane Maria killed nearly 3,000 in 2017.
Perez says you can feel the frustration on the island at times, but they quickly work together to bounce back.
“Everybody here is so resilient. It makes you want to push harder and help more too,” Perez encouraged.
Hannah’s husband is originally from Florida, and as the eyes of the world and the eye of Hurricane Ian move over Florida, she is also praying for the people living there, their safety, and quick recovery.
“So just please return the favor and keep Puerto Rico in your prayers because they deserve it. They deserve it. They are good people,” Perez urges.
Hannah Perez says she hopes to be more prepared when Puerto Rico is the target of a hurricane again.
“There is going to be a next time. It is inevitable when you live on an island,” Perez said.
But after her first, neighbors have adopted her family in even more because now they have lived through the island’s battle with nature.
According to Perez, they told her, “Now you see, now you understand. Now you know what it’s like here.’ Feels like home for sure now,” she added.