By Esther Alaejos |

Ponce (Puerto Rico) (EFE).- Rice and beans are some of the typical foods of the Puerto Rican diet that are distributed to the poorest and “forgotten” communities of the southern municipality of Ponce, a few days after Hurricane Fiona shook the foundations of their fragile wooden houses.

Neighborhoods like El Sol and Punta Diamante were isolated in the first days by the floods caused by the hurricane, which strongly affected the south of the island and in particular Ponce, which led the National Guard to mobilize to bring help.

“I am surprised because we are a forgotten community, as if we did not exist. And when these people come to help us, it even gives me a feeling, so that people see that people live here”, Viviana Ruiz, mother of three children. and resident of the El Sol community.

A dozen families in this community of Ponce, without power for years, lost their zinc roofs to Hurricane Fiona.

Photograph from this Wednesday showing a flooded river due to the passage of Hurricane Fiona in Ponce, Puerto Rico.  EFE/Thais Llorca
Photograph showing a swollen river due to Hurricane Fiona in Ponce, Puerto Rico. EFE/Thais Llorca

Ruiz recalled that “the house shook”. “Here we were all crying because something like this had never happened in a wooden house,” added the 40-year-old woman, who demanded that the authorities provide electricity and water to have “ better quality of life”.

Another Ponceño from the El Sol community, Luis Antonio Sánchez, 55, who lives with his father, said he was “very nervous” when Fiona passed.

“I saw the zinc flying and it was very disturbing,” Sánchez said, referring to the precarious roofs of houses in his neighborhood, unprepared for a hurricane.

Communities held incommunicado for three days

The Inabón River, which runs through the majestic town of Ponce, overflowed due to heavy rains, leaving several isolated areas.

“Almost three days of isolation with these sectors and the rural part, where it was already raining before Hurricane Fiona,” lamented Luis M. Irizarry, mayor of Ponce.

The floods also caused the three-day closure of Mercedita Airport in Ponce, which only reopened yesterday, two days later than the rest of the island’s airfields.

“After 72 hours of hard and intense work, Mercedita de Ponce Airport is opening its runway for commercial flight arrivals and departures,” Puerto Rico Port Authority (APPR) Executive Director Joel A. Piza Batiz. .

This is important since the runway is available to, according to Pizá, “receive any cargo flights or humanitarian assistance to respond to the emergency caused by Hurricane Fiona in the southern region of Puerto Rico.”

María Nieves Rodríguez and Leonel Torres watch from the doorway of their home after receiving supplies from the National Guard, in the Punta Diamante neighborhood of Ponce, Puerto Rico. EFE/Thais Llorca

Some 6,000 boxes of food and water were distributed in the communities of El Sol, Punta Diamante, Belgica and San Antón by 600 soldiers from the National Guard of Puerto Rico in collaboration with the Department of Family and the administration municipal, helping 200 families alleviate the ravages of Fiona.

“There are a few boxes for a family of four with a balanced Puerto Rican-style diet, their rice, their beans for a week,” explained National Guard Puerto Rico Adjutant General Maj. Gen. José J. .Reyes. Efe.

This house “another hurricane can’t take it”

In the communities of El Sol and Punta Diamante it can be seen that the passage of Fiona had a great impact, the wood with which the houses are built were dilated by the water that had fallen in the previous days and in the streets there were fallen light poles.

José Rodríguez, a 45-year-old entrepreneur who lives in Punta Diamante, did not hide his frustration with the situation that forced him to relive the vicissitudes experienced with previous hurricanes like George or María.

Puerto Rico has been hit by several hurricanes in its recent history. In 1998, the Category 3 Georges landed on the island, and in 2017, the devastating hurricane Mariawhich reached category 5, caused around 3,000 deaths.

A woman observes this Wednesday a house destroyed by the passage of Hurricane Fiona in the Punta Diamante district of Ponce, EFE/Thais Llorca
A woman looks at a house destroyed by Hurricane Fiona in the Punta Diamante neighborhood of Ponce, EFE/Thais Llorca

“This house can’t take it anymore, it’s been with George, it’s been with María, now Fiona, I think another hurricane can’t take it, I won’t pass it here, when they say another one is coming, I have already left this house”, condemned Rodríguez, who lives with his wife, between two laughs.

The man said that with Fiona, whose maximum sustained winds were 140 kilometers per hour (85 miles), his house shook and he was “scared”.

In addition to Ponce, the National Guard is delivering supplies to the municipalities of Ceiba, Vega Baja, Toa Baja, Utuado, Arroyo, Maunabo and Comerío, as they are among the hardest hit by the hurricane.

Web editor: Juan David Mosos

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