Wareham woman separated from family in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hits island

By Lydia Goerner | Oct 12, 2017
Photo by: Lydia Goerner Luisa Núñez, who now lives in Wareham with her 7-year-old son, discusses how she felt when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, her home.

“Impotente.” Powerless. That’s how Wareham resident Luisa Núñez said she felt when her home country, mother and 13-year-old son were hit by Hurricane Maria last month.

“I felt like my hands were tied,” Núñez said through a translator. “I was powerless to be able to help him.”

Hurricane Maria was the fifth-strongest storm ever to hit the United States, bringing 150 mph winds to the territory of 3.4 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico on Sept. 20. The death toll is currently at 43, and much of Puerto Rico, a territory roughly the size of Connecticut, is still without electricity and basic necessities.

Núñez spent two weeks unable to contact her son. She didn’t know if he had access to food or water during that time. Now, three weeks after the hurricane hit, she’s spoken to him once on the phone.

She learned her son, Mayagüez, is doing OK, though he was scared by what happened. He left his residential school and went to a shelter in a stadium before the storm hit. The school is now being used to house others who need shelter. Mayagüez said he has to eat canned food, because there is no way to refrigerate meat.

Núñez’s mother lives on a mountain in a concrete house, which was not damaged in the hurricane, though her neighbor’s wooden house was completely destroyed.

Currently, 16 percent of people in Puerto Rico have electricity. Núñez’s mother doesn’t have it, and she only has water intermittently. She does have a government-issued phone, but to use it, she has to drive 40 minutes to get cell phone service. Before she can make the drive, she has to put gas in her car, meaning a wait in line of up to six hours. Many people can’t take their money out of the bank and are looting stores.

“I stopped looking at Facebook and the news because it’s too upsetting, and I can’t do anything about it,” Núñez said.

Núñez moved to Massachusetts seven months ago with her 7-year-old son to provide him with a better education since he has ADHD. Now, she’s faced with uncertainty. She sends Mayagüez money, but she doesn’t know when she’ll be able to talk with him again, or when he’ll be back to school. It could be up to six months before electricity is restored.

“It will take a long time to recuperate,” she said. “But they need their education, so hopefully things will get moving soon.”

Núñez is confident Puerto Rico will be able to rebuild after the most destructive hurricane in its modern history.

“Puerto Rico is going to be OK, they’re strong people,” Núñez said. “The important part is that you’re alive. The material things can be replaced.”

Click here to donate to relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

Comments (7)
Posted by: Spherebreaker | Oct 12, 2017 17:19

Its amazing to me that so many people left PR when there is so much work that needs done. Its no wonder there are so much corruption there and why it was falling apart before the hurricane.

Posted by: Knocked for six | Oct 13, 2017 08:09

Yikes .... How about some compassion ?

Posted by: Anne Eisenmenger | Oct 14, 2017 11:26


I have deactivated most of the comments in this string. Most because they were hateful and/or exercises in creatively spelling obscenities. A few because they didn't make sense without the deleted comments.

The comment string remains open for those who have opinions and are prepared to keep it civil and on topic.

Anne Eisenmenger


Posted by: Archangel | Oct 14, 2017 12:34

Ms. Núñez, suenas como una persona fuerte y resistente que tiene sus prioridades en orden. Les deseo a ustedes, a su familia y a Puerto Rico lo mejor. Al mismo tiempo, me pregunto qué pasaría si Wareham sufriera un desastre similar. ¡ Espero que nunca tengamos que averiguarlo!

Ms. Nunez, you sound like a strong and resilient person who has their priorities in order. I wish you, your family and Puerto Rico the best. At the same time,  I wonder what would happen if  Wareham suffered a similar disaster? I hope we never have to find out!

Posted by: Uptohere | Oct 14, 2017 13:15

  1. Anne, just how many comments did you delete? How many lost their right to protest, their right to free speech, did you feel didnt warranty the right to be read by others?  If you have the ability to delete then you could just as easily edited their swears with #$#$. But you choose to eliminate their opinion as it doesn't follow your opinion. Is that why so many letters defame our President but those defending seem to be limited. ?

Posted by: BeachLover | Oct 15, 2017 09:16

Thank you Anne.  There is too much hate and judgement of others.  Why would we want to bring it into our community

Posted by: WWreader | Oct 15, 2017 17:02

Up to here. Free speech?? This is a privately owned newspaper with guidelines. Anyone who doesn't follow the rules should get edited or deleted. Free speech? We have plenty of restrictions on our speech. You don't hear the f-bomb on regular tv because the rules don't allow it. Free speech? Hate speech is not free by law. If you post on this site, get over yourself and follow the rules or spew your hate speech in your own houses where you do have control over what you can say


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