“I don’t have any words to explain it. If there were words: It’s devastating. It’s horrible.”
This is what third-year student Camila Negron-Rodriguez said of the horrific damage done to her home in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
The damage from the hurricane has destroyed her family’s home, which she says is now unrecognizable. She was able to connect with her mother and learned that she and her dogs were safe.
Negron is one of 93 students from Puerto Rico enrolled at the University of Dayton. Some, like Negron, have spent the last few days excruciatingly waiting to connect and hear from family and friends who are still back home.
“The last 24 hours have been very stressful for all of us, since we are so far away from home. Some of our homes suffered a lot of damage and the pictures definitely don’t make justice for what is happening in Puerto Rico right now,” she said.
Social media has allowed students to receive of updates, either from their family or of their hometowns. Through Snapchat, Negron has seen many of her friends helping people who are stuck in their houses escape the floods.
Negron says that she and other UD students do feel guilt that they aren’t able to offer that kind of hands-on help.
“It’s that feeling you get — you just want to get on an airplane and fly there. But, we can’t,” Negron said.
They are doing what they can. About 20 to 30 Puerto Ricans students from campuses across the nation started a group chat that has grown to more than 200 students nearly overnight. The group discusses ways in which they can help with hurricane relief.
Beatriz Roselló, Puerto Rico’s first lady, assisted in the establishment of Unidos Por Puerto Rico, an initiative to assist those affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Negron and several of her peers joined the campaign and also created a GoFundMe page where they have raised more than $10,000 of their $15,000 goal in the last 24 hours.
“It has been pretty amazing how much we’ve been able to do in such little time,” Negron said. “We say this is just the beginning because there is so much more to be done. This is just one step forward.”