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Student helping in Puerto Rico

Fuerza Puerto Rico

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico with 150 mph winds and 36 inches of rainfall, killing more than 60 people, knocking out more than 80 percent of the island’s power lines and leveling nearly a half-million homes. It was the second major hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in two weeks’ time.

Fuerza Puerto Rico

Recovery has been slow, and volunteers have proven a crucial element in those efforts. Six months after the storm hit, a group of Hofstra students and administrators traveled to the southern part of Puerto Rico to spend their Spring Break helping in the relief efforts.

“What’s the most meaningful place right now,” said Claudia Andrade, assistant dean of students. “We had our heart set on Puerto Rico.

”Genesis Rivera ’19 had visited family in Puerto Rico in December, and knew she wanted to return.

“I saw the destruction and I knew I wanted to come back and help in some way,” she said. “One of the most important things to me was getting in touch with the people here and letting them know somebody is here to help them. Getting to be here and be that person impacted me so much.”

The students cleared brush and debris from homes. They painted and cleaned a baseball stadium to prepare it for the upcoming season, working with former players who were also helping rehab the ballpark. And they bonded with the families they met along the way – and with each other.

"The students that came on this trip have surprised me every step of the way,” said Kathleen Lieblich, assistant director of student advocacy and prevention awareness, “by how willing and excited they are to help those in need and just how gracious they’ve all been in how they’ve served all week.”

Video by Raj Chidambaram '18.

Student at Water's Edge