In the wake of a devastating natural disaster, survivors are left fighting for months to rebuild their lives after everything they worked hard for was ripped away from them in mere seconds.
Ever since Hurricane Maria left catastrophic destruction throughout Puerto Rico in 2017, the people who call the Caribbean island home have been fighting to recover from the devastation. As the 2018 hurricane season approaches, a 99-year-old woman from Florida has found a way to show her support…
Featured photo credit: www.miamiherald.com
On September 20, 2017, a Category 4 hurricane that had been named Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, which had already been battered by hurricanes and tropical storms earlier in that hyperactive 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.
The hurricane, which originated from a tropical wave on September 12 off the western coast of Africa, battered the island with winds up to 155 miles per hour. In addition to the extreme winds, Puerto Rico was pounded by heavy rainfall, which peaked at 37.9 inches of rain…
Hurricane Maria completely destroyed the island’s power grid, which left all 3.4 million residents without power and nearly decimated entire neighborhoods around the island. And after the hurricane made its way toward the east coast of the United States, residents still weren’t safe.
The Dangerous Aftermath
After Hurricane Maria, which is the tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, passed over Puerto Rico, the island was hit by storm surges and flash flooding, which trapped thousands of residents in water 6 to 15 feet deep…
The Death Toll
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the official death toll in Puerto Rico was listed as 64, however, hundreds are still missing and recent reports even suggest that as many as 4,000 people may have died in the hurricane, which was the most intense hurricane to hit the island since 1928.
Many residents in Puerto Rico were left homeless and without any power. In addition, much of their medical and food supplies were also destroyed. In the weeks that followed, residents suffered from continuous flooding and dwindling supplies…
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the people trapped on the island were forced to wait for the painfully slow relief effort to begin. However, when the rest of the world saw what was happening in Puerto Rico, people quickly started donating money and supplies to help out.
Hurricane Maria caused estimated total losses of more than $91.61 billion, and most of those losses occurred in Puerto Rico, which is why all of the donations and volunteer efforts made by people around the world made such a big difference to the survivors…
However, as months passed, people started to forget about Hurricane Maria and the catastrophic devastation it left behind in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands even though they are still far from being restored.
A New Warning
Now, as the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season is beginning, experts are warning that this season is expected to be hyperactive just as the 2017 season was and people in Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean have been left terrified by what awaits them this season…
Preparing For The Worst
As news of the forecasted 2018 hurricane season made its way along the east coast of the United States, most people are trying to preparing for the worst-case scenario. Rather than waiting until a storm is on its way, people are now starting to prepare themselves and their homes.
Some Americans like Florida resident Martha Heft, however, can’t help but think about the people in Puerto Rico who are still struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and are finding ways to show their continued support and help them prepare for the season ahead…
A 99-Year-Old On A Mission
Martha Heft, who is from Clearwater, Florida was determined to find a way to help the people of Puerto Rico, however, at 99 years old, she knew there wasn’t much she could offer. However, when Martha heard orphanages on the island were running low on supplies and clothes for the children, she knew the perfect way to help.
A New Purpose
Martha decided to put a skill she had learned over 90 years ago to good use and sew dresses out of donated pillowcases for the little girls at Regraso de Paz, an orphanage in Aguadilla, which is home to children up to 10 years old…
A Lifelong Skill
“When I was 5 years old I started to sew on a Damascus Treadle Sewing Machine, and from then on and in high school I took home economics. I thought that was the easiest way to get As,” Martha said about the skill she’s now using to help orphans in Puerto Rico.
Made With Love
With the help of friends from her Methodist church group, Martha has made 60 dresses by hand for the children in the orphanage. According to Martha, the dresses are not only handmade but also come with a special note for the child…
A Special Delivery
“Smile because we love you,” a note in one of the dresses read. While Martha would have loved to deliver the dresses herself, her granddaughter and grandson-in-law, who works as the community outreach coordinator for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, traveled to Puerto Rico to deliver them for her.
When the children received their hand-made dresses they were not only excited to have new clothes but were touched that someone they didn’t even know cared about them so much. “For us, it’s a blessing to be cared for by people that don’t even know them,” said Magdalena Jimenez, the executive director at Regraso de Paz orphanage…
A Certificate Of Appreciation
After the 60 dresses were delivered to the orphanage, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Officer presented Martha with a certificate of appreciation for her hard and tireless work at 99 years old. “I never thought she’d be 99,” Martha’s daughter said when the department asked if she thought this is what her mother would be doing at her age.
Martha, however, wouldn’t want to spend the rest of her time on Earth any other way and plans on working to give back to places affected by natural disasters as long as she can. “As long as God grants me life and health, I’m happy to do this. I just wish I had a little bit more speed,” she said.