Woman describes heroic home rescue after Hurricane Maria

World Today

Puerto Rico is an island in dire need. The people are facing devastation and a humanitarian crisis, six days after Hurricane Maria made landfall. Most of the island is still without power, and drinking water is scarce. Authorities are still trying to rescue stranded people.

CGTN’s Nitza Soledad Perez tells the story of one rescue.

The river was untamed. The waters became uncontrollable. The rain kept coming down, days after Hurricane Maria was gone.

Helen Negron is a resident of the mountain region of Villalba. Her home became an island, and she was trapped there for four days. When CGTN spoke to her at a shelter, she was still shaken. She had just been rescued.

“The river burst its banks. The water started coming into the house, bringing a tree with it. It’s a two level house and I live in the basement,” Negron explained.

“The gentleman that owns the house, he’s 70 years old. He tied himself with a hose, and helped me open the door. I couldn’t do it because of the pressure of the water. And the wind. He had to move the washing machine to get to where I was,” she said.

They found relative safety at the higher level of the home, but it continued raining. Waters kept rising and there was no way out. When desperation was settling in, Negron heard a helicopter.

“I don’t know who was piloting the helicopter, but the second man on board was my son,” she said.

“My heart was telling me that it was him. But he couldn’t come down because they were just doing a reconnaissance flight and they did not have the rescue equipment. He immediately came here and alerted the municipal police and they got us Sunday night,” she cried.

Negron went back to her home to get some clothing. Ruben Perez, the man who saved her, was there when she arrived.

“The water was 10 feet high, and almost 200 feet in width extending all the way there. And I was there in the house and I couldn’t leave. Helen was in the basement,” the landlord said.

The river is now calm, but landslides are the current fear and the soil is very saturated.

Political analyst Phillip Arroyo on the devastation in Puerto Rico

CGTN’s Asieh Namdar spoke to Phillip Arroyo on the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. He’s a political analyst and columnist focusing on issues in Puerto Rico.