The first thing Kelene Jusino thought of as the water rushed into her home Sunday night was her unborn daughter.
Seven months pregnant, the 29-year-old, who lives with her husband in Salinas on Puerto Rico’s southern coast, was used to preparing for hurricane season, especially as the island has yet to fully recover from the devastating Hurricane Maria. Five years ago. But Jusino told The Daily Beast that she had finally gotten everything ready before her due date in November and she was overwhelmed by the prospect of losing her home and belongings to Hurricane Fiona.
“My husband and I were inside the house when it happened. It started out as just water coming into the house, and my husband was trying to empty it out with a bucket to try to keep it from taking over,” Jusino told The Daily Beast via text message on Wednesday, noting that he still hadn’t. can make calls due to spotty cell service and minimal power on the island. “Then he came out to try to stop me from going in. When he came in, that’s when the landslide happened, right where he was standing earlier.”
Jusino said that as the then-current Category 1 storm continued to batter the small island, pummeling her house with heavy rain and wind, her husband of 28 years was “trying to run around the house grabbing whatever he could to get it in order.” . higher ground in an attempt to save some of them.” Eventually, they were forced to leave their house in the middle of the night “with just the clothes on our backs and our IDs, not knowing what we would come back to.”
When they finally returned, they found that their house had partially collapsed and was completely covered in mud. Several rooms were inundated with inches of water and large chunks of dirt were piled up against the side of his house due to the mudslide.
The mother-to-be is just one of thousands of Puerto Ricans struggling to rebuild their lives after Hurricane Fiona devastated the archipelago last week, bringing up to 32 inches of rain, 100+ mph winds and landslides that so far They have left at least four dead. the Federal Emergency Management Agency said. The Category 4 storm is now heading north towards Bermuda and parallel to the United States.
The ongoing devastation in Puerto Rico prompted the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Wednesday to declare a public health emergency on the island. That statement comes after Biden authorized FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate relief efforts.
HHS sent a 15-person “Health and Medical Task Force” to Puerto Rico, along with a 10-person “Incident Management Team,” the agency announced. They will work alongside other emergency response teams “to determine what additional federal public health and medical resources, if any, can be used to help the territory respond to the hurricane.”
Biden is expected to be briefed remotely on Thursday afternoon by Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi about the restoration situation on the island. pierluisi tweeted that 78 municipalities have already received aid through Biden’s Major Disaster Declaration and his office is working with mayors to ensure residents receive aid as recovery efforts continue.
“I approved an Expedited Declaration of Major Disaster for Puerto Rico in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Fiona”, Biden he tweeted on Thursday. “I will continue to ensure that the full force of the federal government is mobilized to support the people of Puerto Rico.”
So far, at least four people in Puerto Rico have died from Fiona, including a 70-year-old man who was burned to death when he poured gasoline into a generator while it was running, according to the Associated Press. In a second heartbreaking incident, a 58-year-old man died after being swept away by a river swollen by extreme rainfall.
For Jusino, knowing that she and her husband made it out of the devastating storm alive is enough to help her through the process of trying to rebuild their lives before she gives birth in November. Rebecca Aponte, a childhood friend of Jusino’s who launched a GoFundMe campaign on her behalf, told The Daily Beast that she “has been optimistic about the future even though she has lost many of Jusino’s belongings.” she.
“The community has really provided support both in person and remotely,” added Aponte, who also has family in Puerto Rico.
The mother-to-be noted that most of her attention now is trying to salvage the remnants of her home destroyed by the mudslide. She and her husband of two years are staying with relatives nearby and the neighbors have been helping them “remove the mud from inside our house and clean the inside”.
“We are lucky that despite all of this, it was not a more catastrophic event, we have our health and we are still looking forward to our little girl in November,” he added. “We know there are some tough days ahead for me to fully recover from this. However, we are at peace because we know we will get through. We will do it for our girl.”
Source : www.thedailybeast.com