Jesse Vazquez in his home in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, with the generator that his children brought with them from New York. Photo: Jose R. Madera / Yahoo News

By Caitlin Dickson
22 December 2017

(Yahoo News) – Christmas marked 96 days since Jesse Vazquez’s house on Calle Alameda in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, lost power in Hurricane Maria.

The small generator his children brought him from New York back in October, when Yahoo News accompanied them on their journey, has since been supplemented with a larger one. In the three months since Maria first knocked out the power to the 3.4 million residents of Puerto Rico — who are U.S. citizens — these gas-powered machines have gone from rare commodity to backyard fixture, overpowering the neighborhood with a collective, constant drone.

“It’s intrusive, it’s an irritant. Everybody’s on edge because these things make a lot of noise,” Vazquez said recently. “I’m trying to get used to it, but I’m always glad when they turn off the generator next door.”

Vazquez guesses it might be a month before the lights come back on in his neighborhood — but really, he has no idea. He heard somewhere that it’s taking longer to restore power to homes where the wires run through the backyards rather than in the street — as is the case with his and most of the other homes on his block.

In the meantime, he can’t help but worry about the potential health hazards he and his neighbors may be exposing themselves to with the generators “not only from the exhaust but from the transfer of the liquid gasoline to the tanks. We’re inhaling that stuff.”

He’s also concerned by the fact that, beyond his house, most of the traffic lights in Bayamon are also still out.

“The intersections are a crazy free-for-all,” he said. “You gotta play chicken at every intersection.” […]

A few weeks ago, Vazquez said, an inspector from FEMA came to take a look at a portion of his roof that was damaged during the storm. They told him he wasn’t eligible for aid to repair the damage, but that he could appeal the decision.

“It’s kind of humiliating,” he said, explaining that he probably will forego the appeal process. “My mom feels more like that, because it’s like begging almost, for her. We don’t want anything for nothing.”  [more]

After Hurricane Maria, a look back at the Vazquez family, lit by generator



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