San Diego

Vigil for Hurricane Maria's Anniversary Held at House of Puerto Rico

San Diegans gathered Thursday to remember the victims of Hurricane Maria one year after the storm devastated Puerto Rico.

The Category 4 storm devastated the island, killing an estimated 2,975 people.

Three dozen people gathered at the House of Puerto Rico in Balboa Park to remember those who died in the storm and its aftermath and to encourage survivors who are still picking up the pieces.

By candlelight, they read the names of the cities and villages that were devastated by the storm.

Yahaira Morales had just moved to San Diego before Hurricane Maria hit. She was nine months pregnant with her third child.

“It was very stressful for me," Morales said. "Watching everything, hearing my sister through the telephone screaming."

The hurricane cut a path of destruction through the center of the island. Food, water, and power were in short supply and disease spread unchecked.

The organizer of Thursday night's vigil, Carmen Acevedo, has been back to her hometown of Las Marias several times since the storm.

Some neighborhoods are still struggling to get back to normal, she said.

"If we can send people around the world then it wouldn't be that hard to get people to Puerto Rico which is close," Acevedo said.

Acevedo said there is a lesson in the struggle to recover that everyone needs to take note of because Maria will certainly not be Puerto Rico's last hurricane.

"We need to learn how to have a plan to protect ourselves and protect other people. Those lessons need to be applied and not forgotten,” Acevedo said.

Local artist Julio Pagan has some of his storm-inspired work on display this month at the House of Puerto Rico. He made some of the news photos taken of the people that survived the hurricane into 3D art.

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