SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - A candlelight vigil was held Thursday night in San Jose to mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria. The category four storm wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico causing billions of dollars in damages.
The Puerto Rican Civic Club of San Jose organized the vigil to remember the lives lost and the citizens still struggling. Maria Acevedo-Campbell is the club’s president.
“It should be a celebration of life, instead we are still struggling,” said Acevedo-Campbell.
It was one year ago Thursday, Hurricane Maria quickly became the most powerful storm to hit the Caribbean island in years, wiping out the island's electrical grid, destroying homes and devastating lives. An independent report estimates the death toll at nearly three thousand people.
“It’s affected all our lives,” said Acevedo-Campbell. “It's changed our lives forever. Our lives will never be the same.”
Acevedo-Campbell lost two family members as a result of Hurricane Maria. She said her elderly aunt had no electricity and no air conditioning and suffered a respiratory illness. Her uncle went into diabetic shock. He lacked refrigeration for his insulin. Acevedo-Campbell said FEMA’s efforts fell short and came too late.
“I am upset with the response,” said Acevedo-Campbell. “I’m upset with our government. I’m upset with everything that's going on.”
The group said one year after the storm, the fight to help their people isn't over. Businesses remain shuttered and thousands of homes are still in badly need of repair. Johnny Saldiva said she plans to move to Puerto Rico to help the island slowly rebuild.
“I went two months after the hurricane,” said Saldivia. “I have never in my life seen the island in such devastation. It was just horrendous. You can never forget the people who perished in this catastrophe so we have to pray for them and there's people who are still suffering as we talk.”