Hurricane Maria Response: “Rebirth” in Puerto Rico
May 16, 2018
A combined team from Reformed Mission Services (RMS) and the OPC traveled to Puerto Rico, May 5-12, 2018, to work on damage caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017. The team was organized and led by Rob Brinks, Administrative Director of RMS. They worked in Arroyo, where an OPC church plant, Iglesias Presbyteriana Sola Escritura, is pastored by Rev. Bradney Lopez. The team did tile work at Bradney's home, and repaired, leveled, and sealed the roofs on two homes.
Thoughts on Puerto Rico
by Team Member, Doug Field
The current Puerto Rican experience for visitors offers remarkable contradictions. The island has nowhere near recovered from the disastrous effects of Hurricane Maria. Piles of rubble and detritus from broken buildings are everywhere in evidence. Essential electric service has been restored but the original power lines still hang cut off and drooping from their downed or tilting poles. Puerto Ricans are perplexed and unsure as to how and when full normalcy will be restored to their lives. Any objective analysis indicates that it will not be soon. Nonetheless the spirit of the people is strong, hopeful, and confident.
The Island's government has instituted a recovery and aid program called "Renace" which loosely translated means "Rebirth." Not only is there optimism and determination to face the future but the natural good-naturedness and sunny disposition of these folks is undiminished.
Our team of four, three from Michigan and one from California, spent seven busy and rewarding days undertaking disaster relief in the form of clearing, leveling, and sealing roofs. The preferred style of roof in Puerto Rico is concrete. Concrete roofs are flat and better resist hurricane winds than do wooden or steel framed pitched roofs. Concrete roofs require regular maintenance and the weight of excessive water and poor drainage causes damage. They then have a tendency to leak. Our efforts succeeded in repairing and sealing two very leaky roofs, leaving their owners cozy and dry. We also made preparations for and left the materials to repair and seal additional roofs.
This was an altogether moving and worthwhile time among some delightful people who sincerely appreciated our efforts.