Hurricane Irma: Picking up the Pieces

While Hurricane Irma affected the mainland United States, it also devastated the island of Puerto Rico. PR is only 100 miles long by 35 miles wide.

Photo from Yibran Franco

While Hurricane Irma affected the mainland United States, it also devastated the island of Puerto Rico. PR is only 100 miles long by 35 miles wide.

Jake Stacks and Ryland Mallett

Senior Yibran Franco pressed the phone to his ear, and listened to the dial tone uncaringly reach out across the Gulf of Mexico. His dad picked up, and Franco listened again, this time to his father lovingly telling him that they are alright. After Irma, Franco’s family in Puerto Rico simply had a lot of cleaning to do.

But after Maria, no one is picking up the phone.

“I’ve been here only two years, and this happens now,” Franco said. “I know how they feel, it’s really bad. A Category 5 hurricane is not fun. 255 mph winds, it legit sucks.”

Category Five Hurricane Irma sideswiped Franco’s home country of Puerto Rico, tearing up trees, smashing houses and ripping power lines limb from limb. But, seemingly adding insult to injury, an even more catastrophic Hurricane Maria raged through the middle of the island on Sep. 20. Franco has not heard his family’s voices since the Irma aftermath.

My family is almost all down there,” Franco said. “I can’t get it off my mind. My dad is down there, my brothers, and I haven’t had contact with them.”

Before the monster storms struck, Puerto Ricans beelined for South Texas to assist in cleanup and rescue after Hurricane Harvey. When Irma struck, the veteran hurricane helpers went home, just in time to be trapped as Maria barreled down on them. Franco, who is a member of Key Club, hopes to be able to raise funds at Legacy to help Puerto Rico and other Caribbean Islands impacted by the double Hurricanes.

“Recently we had the Harvey help for Key Club. I’m going to try to do my best to do the same thing for Puerto Rico and the little islands. They really need help,” Franco said. “I’m going to try to do my best to do that because I really want to help.”

President Trump declared a national emergency in Puerto Rico, and the governor of the island challenged Puerto Ricans to seek legitimate shelters and prepare for the worst storm in the country’s history. Franco knows that his home countrymen must come together to weather the storm.

“I see a good thing about this, because we as a country as a nation, we stick together now to fix this problem,” Franco said. “We have to do so, or we don’t survive at all. Sad but true. It’s a Metallica song.”