The long tail of the storm


Today is the first day I have been able to tell my story, I feel like all I have been doing until now is surviving, and today I am able to start living.

I’ve spent the past two months working on a story about Puerto Rican resettlement in Chicago in the wake of Hurricane Maria, and today it’s finally up at Belt. It focuses on the journey of Maricarmen Hernández Galarza (pictured above in the back row, off the right flank of Rahm and behind a rogues gallery of Chicago politicians) and her family as they make their way from San Juan to Humboldt Park, and through the maze of bureaucracy that disaster seems to entail. I’m grateful to everyone who spoke with me, often at great length, as I researched this, especially the various workers at the Humboldt Park field house resource center, but none more so than Maricarmen, whose honesty and openness in sharing her experience moved me greatly. Her story is long — 5500 words here! But I hope you’ll take the time to sit with it, and get to know her as more than a number or political prop.

UPDATE: As an exercise in translation and transparency I’ve also published the story of Maricarmen’s hurricane odyssey in her own words here on Medium.

UPDATE #2: I spoke with Illinois Public Media’s Niala Boodhoo and Cristina Pacione-Zayas, of the Puerto Rican Agenda, about Maria evacuees in Chicago for the January 26 edition of The 21st Show. We’re the first segment, just after the introduction.