Daily Management Review

Hurricane Maria could not extinguish the love for her pets and other animals for this Puerto Rican couple


Despite the screaming winds, the splattering mud and rising tide, this Puerto Rican couple struggled against difficult odds and survived to tell this story.

Despite the battering hurricane Maria gave this quiet Puerto Rican outpost while splattering it with mud, it could not separate Sandra Harasimowicz from her beloved pets.

Last week, Sandra Harasimowicz and her husband Gary Rosario, clung on to the side of a house so as to save their seven dogs from hurricane Maria that reduced their neighborhood to a desolate mud pit.

The storm, which killed at least 10 people, turned the couple’s street into a bed of debris-strewn silt after the nearby river burst its banks. With the surging waters entering their house Harasimowicz thought “… it was the end of the world,”.

With the hurricane raging overhead, Harasimowicz held on tightly to the animals while fighting to cling on to her neighbor’s rooftop solar panels.

She and her husband had already sent their children, aged 6 and 12, to stay with a friend nearby before hurricane Maria struck. They couldn’t however find a refuge for their cats and dogs. They chose to remain with the pets, underestimating the severity of the storm.

Basically, we underestimated,” said Harasimowicz.

Maria knocked out power and telecommunications across the island nation inhabited by 3.4 million people. Residents believe it will take months for the Puerto Rico to recover from this aftermath.

Residents have come back to their homes, to find their washing machines and furniture missing if not caked in mud; furnishings have been totally ruined; floors of the house were caked in a musty-smelling brown sludge.

Everyone says they want to leave here,” said Jose Velazquez, 57, reviewing the mess Maria had made of his home.

Last Wednesday, Harasimowicz and Rosario returned home at night when the flooding began to recede and spent the night on top of a bunk bed with their pets. Much to their surprise, waters began rising again.

In their bid to remain alive, the couple broke into their neighbor’s house with a hammer and managed to get to the roof with their pets. In doing so, they had managed to rescue another dog that was seeking shelter from the storm.

It was either break in or die,” said Rosario, a jovial 49-year-old who on Monday was taking stock of his ruined home and the family’s gaggle of pets, all of which survived.

Having bathed and washed their clothes in rainwater which they collected on the roof, the couple are now planning their next move.

After 12 years in Puerto Rico, seven of which were spent in Yauco, Harasimowicz said she has had enough.

Never again,” she said. “This is over for me.”







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