Stories from Maria – Sharon McDowell

Mike and I experienced the trifecta of hurricanes – Harvey in Houston, Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico! We were in Houston, unfortunately, for the funeral of our son-in-law’s sister, who passed away unexpectedly just before her 46th birthday. The day Harvey made landfall we were actually traveling to the Austin area for the burial, so only encountered minor winds and rain. Our daughter’s neighborhood in Pearland did not flood and her home was untouched, but several friends’ homes were flooded – one declared a total loss as well as their vehicles. We could not get back to Houston as all access roads were flooded, but were finally able to fly back to San Juan from Austin via Dallas.-

The force of Maria was terrifying. We had some flooding and water damage due to 6 inches of water sitting on our roof. Lost some roof tiles and ac compressors flipped over, but no serious structural damage – not even one window broken! All of the beautiful big trees bordering our property gone, so sad.
As for everyone, the first week after was quite challenging – no power, water, gas, diesel, cash withdrawal. It was amazing to meet never-before-seen neighbors who pitched in to clear street and property fronts. We were among the lucky few to have water return after about a week, and little by little bought enough diesel to run generator each night for frig and one ac to sleep. Much better off than most!
After several cancellations, I was able to fly out on SW to Orlando (then on to Houston) on Thurs, Oct 5th. When we deboarded in Orlando, everyone in the terminal applauded, and there were Spanish-speaking employees directing passengers to a welcome center, offering housing and supplies to those who needed. Every business we visit in Houston is donating portions of sales to Harvey victims – hope that occurs in PR also.
Mike is staying in PR, attending to our home and rental properties. I will probably stay in Houston until power returns. My thoughts are with all those still struggling to recover from Maria, and those dealing with the new realities of daily life on our once beautiful island. AAUW San Juan needs to be part of the recovery – let me know if anything I can do.