Reporter’s Notebook: When the hurricane hits home

Reporter's Notebook

Saying goodbye to Puerto Rico… for now.

After 18 days covering the Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Nitza returns to Miami, her base – but her heart is still home.

Oct. 6, 2017

Well today is my last day in Puerto Rico. As you can see, we’re at the airport.

It was quite challenging trying to get a flight. American Airlines was not going to fly us until October 26. We managed to get a flight through a local travel agency. For some reason they bought in bulk. Many of these tickets and they’re reselling to the locals that are trying to leave. I found that a little bit… interesting. And it’s capitalism at its best.

Right now as we were returning the rental car, the stories they keep rising. People come to me. The woman that was receiving the car. She lost her home. She has nowhere to go. She’s like I only have this job. I might have to leave and that is what you’re seeing behind me.

These are not tourists. These are locals. These are Puerto Ricans that have decided to leave, for the next few weeks. Some of them might come back. Some of them might not.

And I keep using the word heartbreaking because that is the only thing that comes to mind. It’s heartbreaking to see. How people are struggling today.

It’s close to 10 percent of the population that has power. Fifty percent, half of the island, is without water.

It’s really hard to live under those conditions. And my family is going through the same. I just said goodbye to my mother yesterday and. She has no power. And she has no water.

And they are desperate and I wish I could stay longer to keep reporting. But there are other stories to cover. We have to go back to Miami.

But my heart is here. And I will be back to cover more stories and I will be back – at the personal level to help my Island, Puerto Rico, in anyway I can.

Sept. 30, 2017

This is another day covering the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

We’re driving around and this is what we encounter — a collapsed bridge.

I’m only about 35-40 minutes away from the San Juan area, and though I was born and raised here I’m not that familiar with the mountain area.

We’re trying to talk to people, and trying to go to those areas that maybe not all media can get to.

And it is heartbreaking for me.

I want to thank all the people on social media that are reaching out, giving me strength to do this.

Because It does take a toll on me. I have moments when I’m alone, in my room, and I cry because I know this island, and it’s personal.

I did cover Harvey. I did cover Irma.

This is where I’m seeing the most destruction

And this happens to be home.

Fixing a flat tire

Sept. 27, 2017

One of the consequences of driving over hurricane debris and wood panels is a flat tire. We are in the process of fixing it.

Our jeep is full of mud, and it’s where me and my photographer have been living for the past week and we have one more week to go.

Inside our truck, I have almonds to snack on. We also have our equipment and a cooler, but with no ice.

Ice has become a very, very expensive commodity in Puerto Rico. People are fighting for it. So we just drink warm water.

At least we are staying at a hotel and the hotel has a generator.

We got gas yesterday and avoided a seven hour line. We were lucky.

The situation is getting more complicated and many isolated communities are without power and water.

This is not an exaggeration. We can reach a humanitarian crisis very very soon if fuel is not delivered to many areas where it’s needed to power generators.