By Ester 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, days later Hurricane Fiona shook the foundations of their fragile wooden houses.

Neighborhoods such as El Sol and Punta Diamante were isolated in the first days by the floods caused by the hurricane, which strongly hit the south of the island and in particular Ponce, which prompted the National Guard to mobilize to provide aid.

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

About twelve families in this Ponce community, without electricity for years, have lost their zinc roofs to Hurricane Fiona.

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

Ruiz recalled that “the house was shaking”. “Here we were all crying because such a thing had never happened in a wooden house”, added the 40-year-old woman, who asked the authorities to provide electricity and water to have “a better quality of life”.

Another Ponceño from the community of El Sol, Luis Antonio Sánchez, 55, who lives with his father, said he was “very nervous” during Fiona’s passage.

“I could see zinc fly and it was very worrying,” Sánchez said, referring to the precarious roofs of houses in his neighborhood, poorly prepared for a hurricane.

Communities held incommunicado for three days

The Inabón River, which runs through the majestic city of Ponce, overflowed its course due to heavy rain, leaving several isolated areas.

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

The floods also caused the Mercedita de Ponce airport to close for three days, which only reopened yesterday, two days later than the rest of the island’s airports.

“After 72 hours of hard and intense work, Mercedita de Ponce Airport opens its runway for arrivals and departures of commercial flights,” announced the executive director of the Port Authority of Puerto Rico (APPR), Joel A. Pizá Batiz. .

This is significant as the runway is available, according to Pizá, “to receive any cargo flights or humanitarian aid to deal with the emergency caused by Hurricane Fiona in the southern region of Puerto Rico”.

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

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

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

This house “another hurricane can’t make it”

In the municipalities 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 was dilated by the water fallen in the previous days and in the streets there were some fallen light poles .

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

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

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

“This house can’t take it anymore, George has endured, María has endured, now Fiona, I think another hurricane cannot make it, I will not pass it here, when they say another is coming I have already left this house”, he Rodríguez, who lives with his wife, between a laugh and another, is convicted.

The man said that with Fiona, whose maximum sustained winds were 140 kilometers per hour (85 miles), her house was shaking and “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 editing: Juan David Mosos

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