On Sept. 20, 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by one of our country’s most destructive natural disasters ever, Hurricane Maria. In this episode, we hear from Red Cross team members who were on the front lines of the response to this storm, as well as two news reporters who covered the storm’s impact and aftermath—all of whom have a personal connection to the island. They recall the devastation and overwhelming challenges they witnessed, along with the spirit and resiliency of the Puerto Rican people.
The following individuals are featured:
- Gaby Acevedo is a reporter at NBC4 New York and Telemundo 47. He was on a special assignment in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria made landfall and covered the storm’s aftermath in the days and months that followed.
- Steven Colon serves as Disaster Program Manager with the American Red Cross National Capitol and Greater Chesapeake Region. Colon, who is half Puerto Rican, deployed to the island from New York, where he lived at the time, for six weeks to support recovery efforts.
- Nelson Lopez is a volunteer with the American Red Cross in Puerto Rico as well as a social worker. Lopez, who was personally affected by the storm, supported the Red Cross response as part of their Disaster Mental Health team.
- Lisa Mateo is a reporter at Bloomberg Business. Working for PIX11 at the time, Mateo, who is Puerto Rican, traveled to the island in December of 2017 to shed a light on response efforts and to talk directly to the people to hear what they were going through.
- Winnie Romeril is a volunteer with the American Red Cross Western NY Region. In her time with the Red Cross, she has deployed to disasters across the country and around the world—including the 2010 Haiti earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan (2013) in the Philippines. Romeril deployed to Puerto Rico with the Red Cross about three weeks after landfall to capture stories about recovery efforts on the island.
Producer & Host: Michael de Vulpillieres
Editors: Chi Kong Lui and Olivia Kozlevcar
Writer: Barbara Gaynes