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Help on the Way

Five years after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is being hit again

Five years ago, we spoke to Enrique Cortes, owner of Cortes Industrial of San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria (“Dispatch from a hurricane disaster area”, p. 45, January 2018 Electrical Apparatus). His was a story of resilience—despite his business being slammed by three consecutive hurricanes that season, Mr. Cortes spoke to us of privilege and those who had it worse. In the hopes of a five-year check-in that would offer hope and repair, we found that Cortes Industrial has persevered, partially by helping aid against the very natural disasters it gets hit by.

Photo caption: Workers from Cortes Industrial repair a flood control pump in Cataño, Puerto Rico.—Cortes Industrial photo

Sadly, the reality of the island of Puerto Rico involves hurricanes as a constant. As of press time, the first major hurricane of the season (Fiona) had hit the island September 18, blacking out the country’s power grid, just as it did in 2017 with Maria. The dates alone are eerily similar—Fiona’s landfall this year spanned the 18th and 19th of September, depending on which part of the island residents live; whereas Maria hit on September 19, 2017.

In the five years between, Cortes Industrial has helped places like the Casa de Bombas (pump house) La Malaria, located in the city of Cataño. Here, for the Dept. Natural and Environmental Resources, it repaired a flood control pump that collects rainwater discharged into said pipe and the Ciénaga Las Cucharillas wetlands, serving a population of approximately 2,000 inhabitants the Flood control pump was “repaired in our workshop and installed by the On-Site group to safeguard the property and lives of the inhabitants affected by said runoff,” Cortes said.

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