José

He lost his restaurant to Hurricane Maria — but not his hope.

Hurricane Maria destroyed José L. Aponte Cruz’s beachside restaurant and his car.

José lives in Punta Santiago, a small town in Humacao on the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico.

The deadliest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico since 1932 battered Punta Santiago on Sept. 20, 2017, making landfall about 15 miles south with wind speeds of 155 miles per hour.

“After the crisis, we cried and screamed. But now we want to rise,” said José. “We are trying to get back on our feet, by the grace of God.”

It’s too expensive for Cruz to rebuild his restaurant, so he now cooks and sells grilled meat and fried food to a loyal contingent of customers from a makeshift tent in his front yard.

One nonprofit at the center of recovery efforts in Punta Santiago, Programa De Educacion Comunal De Entrega Y Servicio, Inc., or P.E.C.E.S., is helping José access aid and develop an alternative business plan, post-Maria.

The cook is one of nearly 44,000 people in 13 municipalities that P.E.C.E.S. has assisted since Maria made landfall. The nonprofit has delivered more than 250,000 pounds of food and other supplies to hurricane-impacted families, coordinated health and psychological services to 600 people in need, and donated nearly 50 diesel generators to powerless homes — projects still in progress six months after Maria made landfall.

Learn more about P.E.C.E.S.


This is a story from GlobalGiving’s “After the Storm” series.