Maria’s aftermath in Puerto Rico

When I step off the plane in San Juan, eight days after the devastation, I see them. A wall of people trying desperately to get out of the country. They fill the airport — families, people in wheelchairs, people of all ages. Some have been camped out for days. It’s the first of a million long lines I will encounter in six days on the island. People are waiting for things we take for granted: gas, laundry, cash, water, food, medicine, shelter. At first the lines are jaw-dropping. After a while, they just become infuriating. Outside of San Juan, signs of Hurricane Maria are everywhere. A countryside entirely stripped of its foliage, debris strewn about, homes without roofs. Heading west, I spot a couple on the side of the highway carrying a basket of laundry down a steep hill. By the time I turn around to photograph them, they’re down in a stream washing their clothes. A few exits later, in Toa Baja, people are shoveling mud out of their homes. Manuel Albert Ruiz tells me a harrowing story about how he rescued his neighbor as the street began to flood in the middle of the storm. He calls her down to the street and demonstrates how he did it, scooping her up with one arm and tucking her to his side. They’re both laughing even though he’s in the midst of throwing away everything he owns. That night, Manuel’s wife will e-mail me and ask if I can send some of the pictures I shot of his baby photos. The framed photos had been covered in mud, and Manuel was throwing them away. His wife wanted my photos of them for her children. “Thank you! You have no idea what those few pictures mean to us,” she wrote. Reading her note, I wish I could do more. You want to fix things. You press the shutter. You hope, you shoot, you hope some more.  --By Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
In Corozal, Orlando Gonzalez holds his daughter, Nahielys, at the funeral of their neighbor, who died as a result of the storm. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
The sun sets, silhouetting trees stripped of their foliage in Morovis. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
A girl plays with a lantern on the street in San Juan as she and her family escape the heat of
their public housing apartment, which is still without power. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
A neighbor walks on a piece of metal that fell on Carmen Charriez’s home in Caguas. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Eric La Luz, 15, who has been clearing mud and debris out of his home and onto a growing pile on the street, rests against a stack of muddy plywood. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Myriam Ruiz waits inside the emergency room in Caguas with her father, Luis Alberto Ruiz. He attempted suicide after the hurricane. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Jose Rosado, Alexi Crepo, and Chiki Rivera watch as a cow that they rounded up tries to jump out of the trailer in Arecibo in early October. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Kened Joel Torres, 18, pulls debris out of his home and onto a growing pile on the street while cleaning up hurricane damage. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Ana Ruiz is consoled in Corozal by a loved one as funeral directors prepare to close her husband’s casket. Victor Ruiz, who had emphysema, died after standing in line for gas for 35 hours. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Victor Ruiz’s daughter reaches out to place her hand on his during his wake, on October 2, in Corozal. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Miguel Martinez, 28, stands on what is left of the roof of his Toa Baja home as he waits for crews with heavy machinery to come and clear away debris. Martinez has been working for two years on the house, which once belonged to his grandmother. “In 24 hours, all gone,” he said. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Headlights and tail lights from trucks illuminate people jostling to fill containers under a stream of water in Corozal earlier this month. They were trying to collect drinking water from the spring in the dark. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
In Toa Baja, a child stands in muddy water inside his home. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Carlos Hernandez and Elizabeth Nieves wash their laundry in a small river beside a highway in Sabana Seca. The roof was torn from their home during Hurricane Maria and the house was flooded with water. They’ve been staying with Nieves’s mother ever since in a concrete house, where five people sleep on the floor. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Geraldo Rivera, 51, helps his neighbor move a dresser ruined by flood water inside a Tao Baja home. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Calves that died during Hurricane Maria decompose in a field at the Ortiz Rodriguez Dairy Farm, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Deborah Estremera washes her hair beside a public spigot in Arecibo. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Alexi Crepo sits and keeps an eye on a pair of cows that were displaced in Hurricane Maria, in Arecibo. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
A family is illuminated by light from a San Juan street vendor’s cart as they escape the heat of their public housing apartment, which was still without power after the hurricane. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
People waited in line for hours to do their wash at Pink Coin Laundry in Caguas. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
In Corozal, a man peers out from a cave as he helps direct water from a spring into PVC pipes. People were using the pipes to fill containers with drinking water. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
A baby picture is covered in mud outside of a home in Toa Baja. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Jensen Santos Perez carries a bucket full of laundry that his cousin Elizabeth Nieves had washed in a small river beside the highway in Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Miguel La Luz is reflected in a mirror streaked with mud as he moves a dresser ruined by flood water inside his Toa Baja home. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Eric La Luz, 15, pulls a plastic bin full of mud and detritus out of his Toa Baja home and adds it to a growing pile. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Pablo Martinez, 64, looks at his cellphone inside his San Juan public housing apartment which was without power. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Children play in a stream of water as rain falls in Yabucoa. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
At HIMA San Pablo Hospital in Caguas, Carmen Navedo lies in a hallway with an IV in her arm. Navedo was unable to get her chemotherapy treatment for two weeks because of the hurricane. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
A driver prepared to leave from the Buckeye Caribbean Terminal, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, with a tanker full of fuel. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Carmen Charriez, 71, walks across the street to the home she is moving into in Yabucoa. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
A man holds gas cans as he waits in line to purchase fuel at a gas station in Yabucoa. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Cesar Diaz, 72, looks out a bedroom window where a mess of corrugated metal now covers his property in Yabucoa. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Dorca Carrillo receives dialysis treatment at HIMA San Pablo Hospital in Caguas. With her usual treatment center down and little gas in her car after the hurricane, Carrillo was unable to receive dialysis treatment for a week. She feared she would die. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
In Corozal, Puerto Rico, men wait to collect spring water in a container. They use flashlights to see what they are doing. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
A patient lays in a hospital bed in the hallway inside the emergency room at HIMA San Pablo Hospital in Caguas. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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