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Hurricane María Anniversary for National Geographic
gabriella n. báez
Sep 27, 2022
Hurricane María is infamous for the levels of catastrophic damage to Puerto Rico’s already fragile infrastructure and for the political chaos it insued in the months after the storm. However, it is the death toll (approximately 4,645 dead) that makes the storm enduringly painful.

In 2018, two months before the first anniversary of the storm, my father died by suicide. Since then, I’ve been looking to document the stories and voices of those who also lost loved ones in the wake of the storm. At the beginning of the year, I pitched this story to @natgeo and was able to connect with four families with diverse losses. In our meetings we talked, looked at treasured possessions of their loved ones, and were able to sustain each other in reliving the painful memories that talking about Puerto Rico’s worst natural disaster in modern history brings to light.

Currently, a few days before the 5th anniversary of the storm, Puerto Rico has been impacted by Hurricane Fiona, a category 1 storm, causing an island wide blackout and massive floods.
‘Like a dystopian novel’: Puerto Rico still mourns, five years after María
For many Puerto Ricans, “time stood still” after the deadly storm, which was followed by a series of other misfortunes.

Gabriella N. Báez

Gabriella is a documentary photographer based between San Juan, Puerto Rico.
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