Vigil held in Providence one year after Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico

September 20 marks exactly one year since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, costing $140 billion in damages and claiming thousands of lives.

A group of Puerto Ricans in Providence held a vigil Thursday in memory of those who were killed.

While the storm did destroy lives, many living here in Rhode Island with family on the island have a story about how they have been personally affected by the impact.

A vigil held at India Point Park in Providence saw many come out to show their support.

“The future will look brighter and this has made us more resilient,” said Dr. Janice Santos, outreach director with the Puerto Rican Professional Association of Rhode Island, organizer of the event.

Fellow countrymen and women embraced each other, as they remember how the storm tore families apart.

“The bridges they were crumbled, the infrastructure was very weak,” said Belen Florez, who was born in Puerto Rico. “Looking at the people and the desperation, not having water or electricity.”

Florez went to the island shortly after the storm hit.

“I saw that everything was gone,” she said.

Carmen Bucholz said her brother and sister are still in Puerto Rico, and are still trying to pick up the pieces one year later.

“The water was about ten feet so [my sister] lost everything. My older brother exactly the same thing,” Bucholz said.

The group joined in a candlelight service and tossed flowers into the river in unison in memory of the victims, and sending a message that they will stay Puerto Rico strong.

“We are Puerto Ricans and that is what we do. We work hard and we don’t let ourselves down,” Florez said. “We pick ourselves up and we keep going.”

The group said there was still plenty of work to be done and urged the public to give any donations they can to the people rebuilding in Puerto Rico.