¡Puerto Rico Se Levanta! (Puerto Rico Rises Up!)
2021, Senior, Poetry & Spoken Word
I witnessed your fury as you ravaged my mother’s island
Preparedness was lacking, desperate living ensued.
Families disconnected for weeks,
Rising uncertainty about survival in the mainland.
Economic disparity paired with debilitating resources,
Leading to despair, depression, and instability.
Destruction and chaos, their daily bread.
Schools damaged beyond repair,
Classes dismissed; children are scared.
Surgeries under a cell phone flashlight,
The talent is leaving the island,
Seeking dreams and light.
The community flourished,
Strength is in the numbers.
Together they rise after many tears shed.
They don’t wait for help,
Sharing a plate, cleaning the streets, tarping a roof,
Whatever is needed they can source themselves.
¡Puerto Rico se levanta!
The personal connection with my mother’s homeland served as my primary inspiration. My poem focuses on the destructive path of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The estimated death toll was over 3,000 people, which could have been lessened if preventable measures—such as more efficient natural disaster strategies, quicker response teams, etc.—had been implemented. The island has yet to recover from the havoc caused by the hurricane. Puerto Ricans want to create a better future and a stronger community. The diaspora and those on the island have a responsibility to advocate for progress by boosting the economy, elevating sustainability, and holding governments accountable. The diaspora has enlarged due to the recent migration, increasing visibility to challenges faced by Puerto Ricans and enhancing their power to prioritize revitalization. Participation of multiple civic sectors is required to achieve success in rebuilding efforts. Puerto Ricans must join forces to set priorities and lead the course of change for a better Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico will continue to be at risk due to the natural path of storms traveling through the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria impacted the island’s already unstable infrastructure and increased its vulnerability. Power, water, gas, roads are now quickly affected from any rainy day, triggering outages and floods. The government needs a solid plan to update the infrastructure, to invest in preparedness and preventative measures to avoid a repeat of the hurricane devastation experienced. Families must understand their readiness includes self-sustenance for a few weeks. Many families failed to secure basic needs when the hurricane alert was issued. This negligence propagated the dire situation for many who were unable to access these staples even weeks after the hurricane hit. As part of the diaspora, we must empower the island by heightening awareness and encouraging preventative actions that assist vulnerable communities. This will elevate engagement with underserved communities while addressing health disparities. The more we know about climate change, the better prepared we are to help Puerto Ricans survive and thrive in evolving conditions. This knowledge will aid in further strengthening Puerto Rico’s advocacy synergy as we strive to eradicate detrimental behaviors that damage our environment and health while creating systemic changes. As our understanding of these climate patterns increases, protection should be enforced via preparedness, prevention, and innovation.