Twenty-two years of hard labor clearing jungle, planting crops, tending chickens to create a farmstead – and in just 24 hours Hurricane Maria wiped it all out. Puerto Rican farmer Jonathan Sepulveda lost almost everything in the monster storm that decimated the island last fall. A year later, his family still does not have electricity.
Yet because of his friendships locally and their connections abroad he sees a way forward.
Western Union brings you the story of resilience in the face of terrible damage and of the hope that community brings.
Alana Feldman started building her dream homestead in the forest near the Sepulvedas a decade ago. The homestead was designed to be “off-the-grid,” complete with its own solar power. But Ms. Feldman had only two days of supplies before the storm and after Maria it became clear that this would be nowhere near enough. Banks were closed and credit cards were just worthless. She needed cash.
She felt defeated until a friend back in the states offered to send money by Western Union. She was able to make a big withdrawal because Western Union had flown a plane full of cash to the island as part of its emergency relief efforts. After Feldman got on her feet and made repairs to her own property, she immediately began helping neighbors, including letting Jonathan come over daily to charge his phone and get ice to keep his family’s food fresh.
“There will be other storms,” Feldman concedes, but now, she says, she feels confident that she and her neighbors “will be ready to weather them.”