Frustration And Relief Among Those Landing In Boston From Puerto Rico

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Downed power lines and debris are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday. (Gerald Herbert/AP)
Downed power lines and debris are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

Seventy-eight-year-old Alonso Mercado and his wife emerged from the gates at Logan Airport on Wednesday evening to see their children and grandchildren. They came from Puerto Rico to take refuge with family in the mainland U.S.

Being in the Boston, Mercado says, is like paradise.

"Like in heaven," he says.

Mercado says his home is ruined, and he plans to stay on the mainland until Puerto Rico returns to normal.

"We didn't have no light and no water," Mercado says. "No electricity in the house, not in the house, in the whole Puerto Rico."

Commercial flights between Puerto Rico and the mainland U.S. have been halted because of a catastrophe brought on by two major hurricanes. The airlines that normally service the island have reduced their schedules to just a handful of flights — and they're dedicated to hurricane relief.

Lucas Guerra, an Argentinian who lives in Boston, was visiting his daughters in Puerto Rico just before Maria hit, and was stuck on the island until Wednesday.

"You never think it's going to be as bad as it looks in the news," Guerra says in Spanish. "But it turned out to be far worse."

Guerra says he had five flights canceled before he was finally able to get on the one JetBlue flight to reach Logan.

He says he never could have imagined what it's like to get hit by a massive hurricane, which wiped out electricity across the island.

Crime is rampant in Puerto Rico, he says, and he can understand why.

"The situation is very tense," Guerra says. "Think about it: The people are there without food, without water, without electricity, I say this as a father of small children. What would you do? You'd do what you had to."

Amid the frustration and confusion of those arriving from Puerto Rico, there was also joy.

Nadia Lopez cried profusely as she reunited with her boyfriend Peter Marmolejos. He came from Chelsea with a bouquet of roses for Lopez, who arrived from her home on the coast near San Juan.

"I actually met her in Puerto Rico," he says. "We had a little long distance relationship. ... After the storm I didn't want her over there anymore."

Leaving her family behind was gut wrenching for Lopez, but she needed to get away. She hopes she can get back to Puerto Rico after a week in Boston.

This segment aired on September 28, 2017.


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Simón Rios Reporter
Simón Rios is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.



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