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The American Tobacco historic district I’m Frank Stasio recovery efforts continue here in North Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence many areas of the state are still flooded and officials say they don’t know when evacuees will be able to return home to Wilmington and other affected parts of the state , while North Carolina is still struggling , we’re also mindful on this day of another area devastated by Hurricane Puerto Rico one year ago today Hurricane Maria hit the unincorporated territory as a Category 4 storm , with winds of up to one hundred 50 miles an hour. Millions of Americans were left without power and water in Puerto Rico in the wake of that hurricane the best estimates show that nearly 3,000 people lost their lives as a result of the storm Annabel Ross’s mother was in Puerto Rico . When the storm hit Annabelle is an attorney in the North Carolina-based law firm of James Scott Ferran she’s also chair of the Durham mayors Hispanic-Latino Committee and she joins us now Annabel welcome good heavier . Thank you for having me . You were in Puerto Rico , 2 days before Maria head what and you were talking to your mother at the time who was there . Well , what kind of conversations we having .
I was talking to my mother up until about 10:30 the day Maria here and I was telling my mum. I was trying to the city not so painfully explain that what was coming . Was going to be really hard and that it was going to be a lot stronger than was she could ever imagine . So I said to her mom when it starts to get there , you’re going to have to get into the bathroom , cause I knew it was the most central part of the house and you’re just going to have to stay there , no matter what she had some friends stay with her , but I had it in a much better idea of what was coming , that she did .
Well did she did the discussion never turned to evacuating to leaving bordering.
I tried to get her to go. I was there to their use before and I tried to get her to go about she calls herself a cookie , which is a little frog from Puerto Rico that makes a distinctive noise that only Puerto Rican lot of I think . But she said : I am of you know I’m a cookie and I can’t leave the island . Or I will die so she was going to stay and keep her fortress on way .
And of course she had lived through many other storms , right.
Yes but none strong in is I will call it evil because when I asked her what the well how would do describe it , she said. It was so hateful whenever she saw the storm actually hit through the windows . She said it was hateful . There was no other way .
So tell us what happened where were you then finally when the storm hit and while he’s gone out with your mother.
I was here in North Carolina and I talked to her until about 10:30 that morning. And then I lost complete contact with her , and of course , no one could talk to anyone . A few hours later . We all began to discover that only anyone with so certain . I think , and he was the only way to working it with all of that and tennis had fallen in the devastation was such that everyone was trapped the wherever they were and there was just , I had no idea what had happened to her or to my husband who was .
You Halliwell is also there yeah so so you lose communication for how long. When could you finally get in touch .
I couldn’t talk to her for maybe 4 days 5 days and then I started to see , I was walking around with this cloud of course you go to sleep and you wake up and you’re like , you don’t know where your loved ones are , and if they’re okay and I started searching through Facebook and finding anyone who was near my mother who I could just contact and say , hey , I see that you are in near my mom. Could you please go and see her in . Tell me how she’s doing , and that’s what I do .
So what did you hear you hear it said then you heard from Mike 3rd and 4th parties and what did you hear.
Yeah , that that you know people seem to be okay. I still couldn’t you know contact my mom , but then I was able to get in touch with my husband who was near the airport and he made the trek to my mother’s house and went through , you know . He did everything they tell you not to do go through all the water and you know his car was pushed by several people who tried to help . What we discovered is that you know you do , you can see guided the in the eye of the storm because people were helpful along the way and people started talking to each other and helping each other and acting in in ways that were incredibly marvelous and beautiful .
When were you able to actually talk with your mother again.
Who take about 2 weeks after I always seem like an eternity. I don’t think I’ve ever felt pain like I did , through that , I mean my my dad has passed and I think this was more painful not knowing not being able to talk to her . Now being able to because and I also felt like she must be suffering that she hasn’t been able to talk to me so I won it that happen so that she knew that I was not worrying anymore .
So she described it as hateful. What else did she tell you about the storm and how and how she actually survived in what you do .
Well you know what’s interesting about that is that I’ve lived in the United States for a long time now. In it , we’ve become very spoiled she’s there Annabel . I did not have electricity until I went to college . I am going to be just fine , and she would make coffee in you know with the gas stove in the backyard and you know neighbors would come by . So yeah , it was horrible , she was without electricity for 112 days . I brought the first solo lied to the house about a month after and she at that point had lights in the house night then we eventually got a generator because generators were very hard to come by and and so after that she was she was fine , but I think she was better than we were in the , in waves .
How long after the storm was it before you could finally get a quarter on how what was their AAA.
It was in October , it was very sad I cried. Most of the way driving firms and the way out because I had never seen it . It was like a war zone . So yeah , it was very painful I philosophically became ill when I got to the house and my mother was in the UK , come here and get sick . There’s no electricity at the hospital . So I , but it was an effect from seeing the devastation and yes everyone here in the US , the people have been wonderful . But the government moved to really way too slow .
And we’re going to talk more about that in a minute , but do and hear more about your mom how bout friends and neighbors. Did she lose many friends in this or what was her sense of I mean obviously power and I don’t know how much destruction to the house and also personal loss you may have experienced .
Yeah. The days after the storm . We’re very difficult for anyone who is ill or needed any kind of equipment that analysis , getting to the hospitals and getting to doctors . It was very difficult . So , even though many of the deaths were not countered as might related they they were .
You know , yeah , those are all part of privilege all deaths are premature to some extent , I mean what do you mean by premature affair for what you know only going to go. So to the extent that the storm are brought on an early death . That’s how we do the counting what , what’s the , you talked about having lived here for quite some time . The United States will talk more about the diaspora , the Puerto Rican diaspora in the US .
Well , wed. What we have learned is that about a million people left the island after the remote area and that because of the economic situation in Puerto Rico and the political situation and what do we got many had already left , I mean I left in 80 in the ’80s . So why has happened that even in North Carolina where we reform area and we knew there were about 90,000 people . There’s about 50,000 more that are just seem to have come to North Carolina specifically . So I believe about 300,000 people move to Florida . Some people move to New York , but it is , it has become the what seems to be the 3rd most favorite state for Puerto Rican succumbed to is North Carolina and the storm seems to have also been beneficial point weakens getting together and coming together with the F .