A week before the “true catastrophe” would hit
I remember vividly how, on September 13, 2017, I dusted off my old writing journal which had been mine since I wasn’t even a teen, and I said to myself “You are going to write a story, of how Puerto Rico was just an inch close to a catastrophe. Because maybe that will impact people, and make them appreciate life more.” All I wanted to do was impact lives.
Having been a week since hurricane Irma hit Puerto Rico, we were still with no electricity and that, to me, was a catastrophe. So, I got my phone out even though I knew it had less than 20% charge and I didn’t know when I’d be able to charge it again, and I decided to start a book I would never finish. But the passion I had to make a difference in the world, made me ignore that reality. Besides, I had never published a fiction book before, so who was I to think that I would reach thousands of readers on my debut novel? I knew I wouldn’t, but I was determined to try.
After pages of writing, I decided to take a break and go outside and get some fresh air. With the journal and a pencil still in my hand, I took a deep breath that filled my lungs with air that had been filtered by the thousand trees my island had, that’s what made it so pure – and I loved it.
My dad was outside as well, watching the beautiful sunset from his hammock. So I decided to ask him what he thought about my idea to write a novel about the events that had just occurred.
With a serious, but loving manner he looked at me and said:
“Do you really believe this is a catastrophe?” he paused waiting for my response. Scrambling to find one, I answered:
“Of course it is. We’ve been with no electricity for a week. We were uncommunicated with no cellular signal since it came back before yesterday. Some farmers lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in crops. Isn’t that a catastrophe?”
He narrowed his stare, I could tell he was thinking deeply, but like his normal self, he didn’t say anything and looked up at the sky.
“You haven’t lived through a catastrophe just yet.”
The words took me by surprise, and I looked down at my journal, still open on the page I had left, and clenched it hard, denying the words I had just heard. But, as much as I wanted to brush them off and continue my mission, I knew he was right, and I was forced to hold off.
Little did I know, that exactly a week since that conversation took place, hurricane Maria would claim its title as “the most catastrophic hurricane in the history of Puerto Rico”, and I would then get my chance to impact lives.
Hi, my name is Jose Gabriel Lopez, and I survived hurricane Maria.
In the days following the storm that tore the island in half, I would live through some of the most heart-touching and life-changing events I had ever witnessed and lived through, and probably ever would. As a teenager, my life was truly impacted by the unity, hope, and courage, I witnessed from the people of Puerto Rico in a time of crisis.
I have a calling inside my heart to spread the messages I witnessed first hand. Because those are the stories people haven’t heard about yet, and they are the ones that touch lives.
Starting tonight, December 20, 2017, I will make those stories heard. Starting now, I will be publishing a series of blog posts, that are the exact retellings of what I lived through on that day, 90 days ago, from the aftermath of hurricane Maria.
I promise you, it will change your life, just like it changed mine.