Fema, Christine, Apoyo Mutual Mariana discussed on Environment: NPR
Although FEMA and local officials are pushing hard on the message that the government is ready with plans and supplies in the event of another major storm, they are also encouraging local citizens to take matters into their own hands. We've found people who got that message long ago and not necessarily because they wanted to. That's why beans this is fake. I'm rides. I'm Mike Ernie's violent. We haven't hit been heavily thing that is Maria LA boy. She's part of the reactor. The Apoyo mutual Mariana, basically a community kitchen and self help group where neighbors can get a hot meal. And if they needed company and encouragement, they started serving free meals just a couple of weeks after hurricane Maria. Full range sometime feeling at home today. Everybody came guess. Be the everyday. That's three hundred to four hundred meals a day for the community located at the top of the small mountain village of Madonna. Nice to meet. You. Welcome to Alabama, Mariana, Christine, Nevis, and her partner Luis Rodriguez Sanchez linked up with an existing community center to innocence start running an impromptu disaster relief program. It was a mutually idea the up on your mood to a was that it was not only giving away free food, but it was also inviting people no matter their age to be able to to contribute whatever they could in return and the sense of we can be part of our own solution. Christine was born in Ponce a large city on the south of the island. She'd moved back from the mainland at it, moved to Louise's hometown of mahayana before the storm. She told us when she and Louise started taking stock of conditions in the neighborhood after the storm, they realized they had to do something. We realize our neighbors are eating rotting ham, like that's what we found out that day. But they were eating ham like sandwich meat that had been on refrigerated. So the first thing they did was. Organized free meals out of the community center kitchen. Then they found a way to provide WI fi for the neighborhood. Then water. They checked on elderly neighbors and delivered meals. Now they're helping to restore an abandoned school to turn it into a sturdier community center. We're more services can be offered. These types of community groups are popping up all over Puerto Rico. The idea was to build a space where you could feel that you were Intel Pless because the days after nothing, we didn't see anyone. We didn't hear helicopters. There was no water. The power lines were down. People were stuck at home because it didn't want to spend the little gas they had after the hurricane before everybody showed up. It was twelve days before we saw a truck that had a little packet of nutri grain Vienna sausages. And what was the other thing skills? And then. Six sixteen ounce bottles of water per family. Everything being run here now, is it still the same? Is it still all volunteer, or do you get any form? Oh, help from FEMA or any of the government agencies? Do they provide any supplies? You know, we would love to hear from FEMA and government and and we would love to hear a good job doing our job making our job easier because it really feels that we're running a Meany government here, not yet. We Vance her as we haven't received any formal. This is all individuals, individual donors, people that are like, I'm giving you what I have. The most difficult part of this is that while we're working toward solutions, we're the same people that are being affected by the problems that we're trying to solve. So we don't have skylights in our home. We don't have water many days of the week, we know have electric city and part of the thing that's most. Pickled is that people have forgotten that we're still living in an emergency that I still get people from the diaspora, Puerto Rican Selam can you check my? My aunt, she's deaf. She doesn't have electric city. She cannot. Oh, you know, turn on a generator and we're probably going to see a lot of people, sadly, pass away because of this because this still goes on. And frankly, the the other part is that and perhaps the most important part is that. We are getting ready for for another natural disaster. And I don't know if this is PTSD, but we're like we fill in and our balance that we are on a. We're running against the clock and we're just like, how, how are we going to get the radios here and the community leaders across and decentralize the supply so that they're easier to deploy and how are we going to do a completely different system than whatever the government has will FEMA. We went to the FEMA warehouse in some wine, and they were very aggressive about their message that they already and they have enough and that they are in touch with the community so that they have a plan. Do you think that message is being received here? I don't think so. I would say that the people that are that that feel ready are because they feel ready because they're part of a community project because they know that we have each other, but no, that message is not getting here. So it's it's draining. Frankly, our mental health sometimes. Falters as well. And that's that's really hard. I wish we had more of a more robust way of dealing with them into health component. Culturally, it's a, it's a challenge because an older generation may not want they don't. They don't necessarily want to say that they need us a college est, but I burn out in November, like even while I'm in the middle of the most hopeful thing you could do because you see people show up everyday. This women are showing up everyday. No one selling them to. They decided the reason why that kitchens open. It's because they open it up because they felt that they needed a further mental health. They said, if I go home, I'm going to get depressed. And I'm going to have suicidal thoughts. Because there's no, you know, and so they opened and that's an hour. We're like, all right. You got to figure out a business model to sustain this. What you can hear. Christine's voice is the energy in determination that got her and her neighbors this far, but what you can't see is her eyes filling up with tears, which is something that happened over and over. Again. We talked to people this week as they remember the terrifying experience of living through the storm and all they've been through since and thought about what might be coming next.