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Recovery efforts surface for Puerto Rican students after hurricane Maria

Image+from+Puerto+Rico+following+the+devastating+Hurricane+Maria.%0APhoto+courtesy+of+Giov%C3%A1n+Cordero+Col%C3%B3n
Image from Puerto Rico following the devastating Hurricane Maria.
Photo courtesy of Giován Cordero Colón

Image from Puerto Rico following the devastating Hurricane Maria. Photo courtesy of Giován Cordero Colón

Image from Puerto Rico following the devastating Hurricane Maria. Photo courtesy of Giován Cordero Colón

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Britney Roman, a freshman in the College of Health Sciences, finally got in touch with her family almost two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico Sept. 20. The storm left behind widespread devastation as it moved through the Caribbean, tearing through cities and villages, leaving residents isolated from the outside world.

Roman is one of a group of Marquette students facing a dire situation.

After the hurricane hit, ninety-five percent of Puerto Rico’s cell towers were out of service, according to a statement from the island’s Federal Communications Commission released Sept. 23. Some students, like Ali de Luca, a sophomore in the College of Communication, has only been able to make contact with her parents through WhatsApp calls.

“When I do get through though, he either can’t hear me or I can’t hear him,” de Luca said.  “All I know is the home I left a month ago isn’t the same one I’ll be coming back to, whenever I even get to go back.”

de Luca said it has been hard to focus on her studies and live a normal life at Marquette.

“I’m over here living more than comfortably with everything I could ever need at an arm’s length, while people back home can’t even shower or eat a decent meal,” de Luca said. “I’ve felt overwhelmed and helpless.”

Mica Arteaga, Katherine Ramos and Danielle McCloskey talk with President Michael Lovell at the fundraiser held last week in the Alumni Memorial Union. Photo courtesy of Ali de Luca

 

 

Ariana Jimenez, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, said her family did not get the opportunity to evacuate until after the storm hit due to previous damages and flooding.

“My family is okay, but there are a lot of families that aren’t right now,” Jimenez said. “Puerto Rico is absolutely destroyed. My high school is not recognizable.”

Jimenez stressed the importance of creating awareness of the situation Puerto Rico. Despite being on campus, she and other students are finding ways to help from abroad.

Last week, Marquette students organized a fundraiser in the Alumni Memorial Union to accept money, canned food and water donations.

Cris Borghese, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said in an email that the students are raising money for an organization called United for Puerto Rico, which was created by the first lady, Beatriz Rossello.

Borghese is from San Juan, Puerto Rico. He took on the role of creating a YouCaring fundraiser online.

“In total, we have been able to raise around $4,ooo,” Borghese said. “It has been an ongoing battle, but Puerto Rico will come out stronger than ever, and united we will rebuild all that we lost.”

The university also voiced its support for Puerto Rican students during this difficult time.

A mass was held with special intention for those affected by Maria, where donations were also collected for hurricane relief. University spokesman Chris Jenkins also referenced the fundraiser in the AMU and an online fundraising campaign by Marquette men’s basketball legend Butch Lee, who is a native of  Puerto Rico.

Xavier Cole, vice president of student affairs for the university, wrote a letter addressing students who were impacted.

“I want you to know that you are not alone. Because you are part of our community, we are dedicated to your success and holistic development as a student,” Cole wrote. “I am working diligently with other Marquette administrators to provide the best support to students directly impacted by Hurricane Maria.”

Housing assistance is being offered to students living in Marquette Residence Halls during the winter break. Marquette Central has also been a resource for students who need financial assistance due to the effects of the hurricane.

“Marquette Central is available to speak to students who may be experiencing financial difficulties related to the impact of hurricanes,” Jenkins said. “We continue to support all of our students who have been affected by recent natural disasters, and keep them and their families in our prayers during this difficult time.”

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