HPCMS and Hurricane Victims

By Gabriel Alarcon, Destiny Dimitrova and Cara Marie Giardina

Long Island City - There are countless people affected by the five hurricanes that hit between August and October of 2017 - namely Maria, Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Nate - and some of those affected are students and staff at this school.
In fact, out of the 60 students we surveyed, 56% reported that they have been directly affected by the hurricanes.

When we started the school year, Hurricane Harvey had already destroyed Houston, Texas. Nine trillion gallons of water rained down on the city. This is about the size of fourteen million Olympic-sized swimming pools according to Quartz. This forced thirty thousand people to evacuate and move.

In our first week of school, Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean. Shortly after, it was followed by Hurricane Maria which destroyed Puerto Rico and neighboring islands. The aftermath of these storms directly impacted students here at HPCMS.

Lesly Hernandez, a 6th grader explained how Hurricane Maria affected her family in Puerto Rico. “There’s this big church that my grandparents go to and it collapsed, making the ground shake. The church fell down and they are still trying to fix it.”

Millions of people’s homes have been destroyed and now there is a very large amount of people looking for housing. Hurricane Maria not only destroyed houses but also took nearly 500 people's lives with it. It also destroyed 80% of the country’s agriculture.

Giana Velez, a 7th grader whose great grandparents live in Puerto Rico said, “their house was submerged in water up to the second floor. If they had been on the first floor they would have drowned and they were there for the entire hurricane. They have electricity now, but it’s kind of off and on. Sometimes they get cell reception and sometimes they don’t.”

Seven weeks after hurricane Maria completely distorted Puerto Rico’s power grid, the island is still only generating 40% of the electricity it had before the storm.

According to the New York Times scientists believe that climate change is making hurricanes like the ones that have recently occurred even worse.

Nicholas Lentini, a 6th grader at HPCMS said that his “great grandpa’s house in Florida was completely wrecked. My grandpa was affected emotionally because he had a lot of stuff he wanted in that house. He loved that house because he bought it a long time ago and it brought him so many memories.”

“I have family in Florida and Puerto Rico,” said Amelia, a 7th grader at HPCMS, whose grandmother lives in Florida. “She’s about 85 years old. She couldn’t take her medicine because there was no water and she could've died. It was really hard to get in contact but my grandfather was able to.”

Kylie Williams, a 6th grader here, explained: “My father was born and raised in St. Thomas, which has a big history of hurricanes because it is so close to the equator. It’s an island and it’s surrounded by water, so hurricane Maria and Irma were pretty big and really destructive. My grandfather still lives in St. Thomas...up in the huge mountains, so communicating with him is basically impossible unless he goes to town. And actually they don’t have any power yet...and it will be so long until they regain any. Sometimes we even try to send batteries to him, but they are crazy expensive.”

Kiara Gomez, a 7th grader at HPCMS, has an uncle in San Juan, Puerto Rico and another uncle and aunt in Rio Piedras who were affected a lot by the storms.

“They couldn’t even come out of their house, and it’s really hot in Puerto Rico. My uncle was really sick, so it was really bad and they called an ambulance and it never came." She went on to explain that her grandmother is also from Puerto Rico and has friends and family that live there.

“My grandma has these friends from when she was really young - they were four sisters - and three of them went down to get something [from the first floor of their house] and the bottom of the floor collapsed on them and they all passed away.”

Kiara’s uncle is getting better and her grandmother is going back to Puerto Rico to be with the family. “Thank the lord that my uncle lives in a complex, but my other family, their house is completely wrecked because they live in a wooden house and it was all flooded. Though her uncle in San Juan now has power her relatives in Rio Piedras are still without electricity.

Even after all of the people that have tried to help the relief effort, there are still thousands without power, who are homeless, and who have not been able to get in contact with family.

These hurricanes have affected many students here at HPCMS and we can all play a role by supporting the families and students that have been affected.