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Felix Lopez Gonzalez

Felix, a born New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent, returned to the island of Puerto Rico in 2013, with the goal of getting his ill mother and dying step-dad back to the mainland. Unable to get medical permission to move the two of them, he was forced to bury his step-dad on the island after he succumbed to lung cancer. Forced to deal with his new reality, Felix was able to send his mother back to the mainland, where she finally got the medical help she needed. Felix remained on the island, studying and working and reconnecting with his roots.  

When the storm first hit, it was a shocking experience. From his view at work, it looked like an explosion as far as the eye could see. His home lost a wall, a window, and a roof—and left him completely decimated. Much of his furniture, clothes, and personal affects were ruined.

The storm was just beginning. In the aftermath, the biggest challenges for Felix were not knowing how long he'd be reduced to sleeping out in the open, and wondering where and how he would get food and groceries nearby.   

Though his experience on the island is far from unique, he knows this never would be a problem if he lived on the mainland. Hurricane Maria opened his eyes to the enormous difference between living on the island of his ancestors and his borough of Brooklyn.

Today, Felix continues to works as a security patrol officer in Palmas Del Mar, Puerto Rico.