Last week, the Trump-Pence administration met with FEMA officials to congratulate the agency on a successful 2017. They did not mention Puerto Rico once, where the death toll following Hurricane Maria is still a point of contention. Even as recent studies cite a number 70 percent higher than had been previously reported—more than 4,600 people—the administration has stopped talking about the island and its residents. Tens of thousands have left the Puerto Rico, where crucial infrastructure like hospitals and power remain hobbled.
Journalists on the ground in Puerto Rico, some of them writing and photographing for Splinter, have done solid work. But the scope of what we’re reading in no way matches the scale of the tragedy. And even in the best circumstances, interviews are heavily edited. Single quotes stand in for months of struggle and uncertainty; a couple of exchanges with a journalist are supposed to represent people’s whole lives. In the wake of a disaster like this—which like so many other American disasters are sort of natural, sort of manmade—the stories that make it into the press usually highlight the most heart-wrenching, but familiar, storylines: horror, recovery, rebuilding, hope.
It’s not often we get the opportunity to see wide angles, and here at Splinter we occasionally solicit letters, which we run in their entirety, unedited. Now we’re asking for your stories about Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria: From people on the island itself (with the help from people on the ground), from the families who relocated and are still waiting to return, from Puerto Ricans stateside watching the last year from afar.
What stories aren’t being told? How did Hurricane Maria change your life and your loved ones’ lives? What’s happening now?
Our line is always open: Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line “Puerto Rico letters.”