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Fleeing Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Family Rebuilds in Rockland County

Posted on December 19, 2017 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Check Out This New York Times/Catholic Charities First-Person Account

Like millions of others in Puerto Rico, Enid Rosa had her normal life washed away in September by Hurricane Maria, reports The New York Times in this special Sunday edition Neediest Cases editorial. Her house in Rincón, a coastal city on the western edge of the island, was inundated. Outside, the flooding was even worse….

“It was really bad,” Ms. Rosa said. “But it was scarier after the hurricane: No food. No water. All our basic utilities lost. It was really after the fact that it got scary.”

With devastation all around, she felt she had to leave. In mid-October, she took up her brother’s offer of shelter and moved with her children  Ava, 15, and Juan, 9  into his house in Spring Valley, N.Y…

Still, having lost almost everything to the storm, she needed help rebuilding her life. It came from Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York.

Catholic Charities NY immersed itself helping Puerto Ricans recover.  We provide staff, promote fundraising, offer resources and have even made personal visits to ensure those in most need receive help.  This past week, Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan led a team of staff to deliver food, water, clothes, even Christmas gifts to Puerto Ricans in some of the hardest to reach and most devastated parts of the island. 

Meanwhile, here in New York, Catholic Charities mans a new city service center set up in East Harlem that serves as a one-stop-shop linking critical services to the Puerto Ricans, like Ms. Rosa and her children, fleeing to New York in record numbers.  Those lucky enough to score the few available airline tickets can bring with them only the one carry-on and one piece of checked luggage allowed.  Aside from their lives, they have been forced the hurricane’s devastation to leave nearly all they valued behind.

Ms. Rosa, for example, left behind her job renting vacation beach homes that, of course, no longer exist.  Her children, Ava and Juan, left behind their school. They left their home, their house wares, whatever they could not fit in their luggage or on their laps.

Fortunately, they found their way to Catholic Charities Community Services in Rockland.  Catholic Charities used its resources and community connections to provide them with everything they needed to rebuild their lives.  The children received book bags filled with school supplies.  Ms. Rosa was given interview clothes and career counseling.  The family received food from Catholic Charities’ food pantry and a full turkey-to potatoes-to stuffing and more meal to celebrate their first Thanksgiving dinner in New York.

Now I’m working,” she said, “and trying to get myself back together.”

Her life from now on will be in the New York region, she said, because “there’s no way I can go back.”

Read the full New York Times editorial about Ms. Rosa and help she received from Catholic Charities NY

Stay tuned to our blog posts for first-hand updates on their humanitarian visits to Puerto Rico this week by Msgr. Kevin Sullivan and our coworker, Teresa Santiago. 

Help us help Puerto Rico recover