Hurricane Dorian Approaching Puerto Rico Creates 'Flashback' To Maria | Connecticut Public Radio
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Hurricane Dorian Approaching Puerto Rico Creates 'Flashback' To Maria

Aug 28, 2019

As another major storm approaches Puerto Rico, the people on the island are still thinking of when Hurricane Maria made landfall there in 2017.

The National Hurricane Center has placed Puerto Rico  under a hurricane watch. It upgraded Tropical Storm Dorian to a hurricane Wednesday afternoon.

Carmen Cotto said it’s common to hear Puerto Ricans say they’ve developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of living through Maria. Just yesterday, as she stood in front of her refrigerator, the prospect of Dorian’s impending arrival triggered a memory from the days that followed Maria.

“I wanted to cry because of all of the sudden I had like a flashback: when my sister and I looked at the refrigerator, the ice, the freezer and there was no ice, there was no water, there was no food -- nothing to freeze and barely nothing in the refrigerator,” Cotto said.

Cotto, a Hartford native, briefly relocated there after Maria.

She spoke with Connecticut Public Radio by phone Wednesday as she drove to her parents house in Cidra from her home near Cayey.

“I just drove by the fire department and they have boats and everything else all ready to go,” Cotto said.

Cotto began noticing the storm prep on Monday when schools closed so that they could serve as areas of refuge. Islanders are being told to stock up on food and water – enough to last 10 days per person. If there’s anything she’s learned in the aftermath of Maria, Cotto said it’s to have enough water.

“We are prepared. We have big canisters filled with drinking water,” Cotto said.

Her and her family have collected more than just drinking water.

“We have water for bathing and water to do dishes,” Cotto said. “We also have the water for the toilet.”

The storm is currently on a track that’s expected to travel over the northeast part of Puerto Rico. One gust of wind near the Virgin Islands was recorded Wednesday at 111 mph.

President Donald Trump has approved a federal emergency declaration for Puerto Rico. 

But Senator Richard Blumenthal is already anticipating a poor response from the Trump Administration. Over the last two years, Blumenthal’s been critical of how Trump reacted to Maria’s devastation of the island.

“Resources are needed and they are deserved by the people of Puerto Rico and right now, what we’re seeing in real-time is a repeat of the federal failure to fellow Americans in Puerto Rico as they’re about to be hit by yet another potentially catastrophic storm,” Blumenthal said.

$150 million that had been earmarked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency has now been redirected to address immigration at the Southern U.S. border. Blumenthal said that’s just one example of how the government is unprepared for Dorian.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that FEMA officials are standing by to provide aid in Puerto Rico. But he also used Twitter to blast the Puerto Rican government – and to say one more time that he’s “the best thing to ever happen to Puerto Rico”.