Massive hurricanes strike Puerto Rico and Florida

Over the past few weeks, hurricanes have ravaged Florida and Puerto Rico, killing dozens and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.

Hurricane Fiona was the first to strike, hitting Puerto Rico on Sept. 18, 2022, five years after Hurricane Maria caused catastrophic damage and left much of the island without power. After Fiona, they have only just started to see the benefits of the federal money set aside for them after Hurricane Maria. The people of Puerto Rico have lived through two deadly hurricanes in the past five years and have learned how to prepare themselves in the years in between. When Hurricane Fiona hit the island, they were far more prepared for it than they would have been without the experience from Hurrican Maria.

Samuel Hernandez of Caguas, Puerto Rico, described his experience with hurricanes in a phone interview. He has lived in Puerto Rico for most of his life and has lived through four different hurricanes. “The worst one was Maria,” Hernadez said. “It devastated the island and left us without power for many months.” However, Hernandez learned from his experience and he prepared better for Hurricane Fiona. “I myself was more prepared. The island, not so much, but there were a lot of lessons learned,” Hernadez said. After Maria, he had bought large tanks of water and gasoline, and installed solar panels. “We were worried that the power would go out. We were worried that we wouldn’t have basic services,” Hernandez said. “The one thing that I would have done differently was to have started rationing sooner.” Hernandez recommends that anyone facing a disaster on this scale stock up on necessary supplies beforehand and be prepared for a lack of basic services. He also recommends that people start rationing their food and water immediately, and not wait until they have almost run out of supplies.

Hurricane Ian hit Florida on Sept. 29, and killed more than a dozen people. It didn’t slow down and hit the Carolinas shortly after, damaging many communities and destroying countless homes. People in Florida have already been left without power, water and shelter, and state officials have said it will likely leave scars on the affected communities that will take several years to heal.
The devastation caused by the hurricane in Florida has also led to unity which, prior to the catastrophe, would have seemed impossible. According to Newsweek, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is one of the most likely Republican nominees for 2024, expressed gratitude toward President Joe Biden. “What I said today is my phone line is open when people’s lives and their property are at risk like this. We all need to work together regardless of party lines. The Biden administration has approved our request for a pre-landfall declaration and did that very quickly. So we’re thankful for that,” DeSantis said.