Puerto Rican natives gathered outside the Meyer Amphitheater on Sept. 22 to unite as a community and remember the catastrophic tragedy of Hurricane Maria one year after landfall.
According to CNN, the Puerto Rican government raised the official death toll of Hurricane Maria to 2,975 on Tuesday; this makes it one of the most devastating natural disasters since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Alliance for Progress, the main organizer for the rally, aims to build and improve U.S. relations with Latin America. Their goal for the eve
nt was to bring Puerto Ricans from all over Florida together for a rally to raise awareness about the current state Puerto Rico is in one year after Hurricane Maria.
“It was a very nice gathering to kind of commemorate what has hap
pened in a year,” Alexandria Alaya, regional organizer of Alliance for Progress and local political consultant, said.
According to The Palm Beach Post, roughly 800 people participated in the rally. In attendance was Mayor Jeri Muoio.
“I was invited to welcome the folks to West Palm Beach which I often do with all different groups of people...to tell them that we respect they are our fellow citizens...and that we wanted to offer our support to the Puerto Rican community,” Muoio said.
Mayor Muoio believes that the event was personal as well as political.
“ I don’t know if you’ve been through a hurricane...it’s very upsetting personally and then when you don’t get support from the government that you’re looking to have support from, it ends up being political,” Muoio said.
However, for Alaya, the rally had a deeper meaning.
“[It was] definitely personal, there were people there of all backgrounds there, all representations.” Alaya said. “It was about the community coming together, and about the need and the continual need for people to get resources on the island. It was about a sense of unity.”
Alaya, a native of Puerto Rico herself, recalled what it was like going through Hurricane Maria.
“I was born there… my whole family still lives there… my grandparents were without phone access for two weeks… we didn’t know if our loved ones were okay for two weeks,” Alaya said.
Looking toward the future, Alaya hopes to see more change come to fruition.
“It’s my home… it’s always a part of who I am, and I love it and I hope to see it get better as soon as possible with the support of the government here in the United States,” Alaya said.