Puerto Rican community remembers lives lost in Hurricane Maria one year later

HARTFORD – Hurricane Maria made its mark on Connecticut as dozens of families uprooted by the storm, are still living here in the state.

On Thursday evening, they remembered the days their lives were changed forever through a march and a vigil.

Many Puerto Ricans died when Hurricane Maria ripped through their communities, but most died from the aftermath.  Police cruisers were seen flashing their lights from miles away on Park Street and traffic was extremely backed up.

Police paved the way for several proud Puerto Ricans as they waved their flag while marching from El Mercado to Barnard Park.

Many have been disappointed at the poor relief response from the federal government and stood strong on calling them their dysfunction and corruption.

Evelyn Mantilla is a member of Latinas en la Resistencia, an organization that fights for equality and dignity for the Latinas in Connecticut.

“We stand for justice and we believe that justice has not been served for the 3,000 people that perished as well as those who are still suffering in the island and those who are here who hasn’t received sufficient support,” said Mantilla.

A familiar face in the crowd was Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez who said it has been extremely frustrating to see her own people get treated this way.

“There were policies and legislation that was instituted very quickly in the states of Florida and also in Texas right after those hurricanes and those natural disasters and the same did not happen in Puerto Rico,” said Bermudez.

Jason Ortiz with the CT Puerto Rican Agenda said lives are still being lost and many are suffering from post-traumatic stress.

“There’s a lot of loneliness and mental health issues that need to be addressed – there’s a lot of trauma, a lot of suffering, suicides are going through the roof, a lot of folks are taking their own lives,” said Ortiz.

Those at the vigil said they do plan on having more demonstrations until they get a better response from the federal government.