Excerpts from a letter from L. C., a former student who is currently incarcerated at South Bay Correctional Facility in Florida
Dear Kathy, I’m sorry for the delay in writing, but as you know Mother Nature has been doing some house cleaning in our area. Irma came through and scared the living crap out of everyone. She completely decimated the Keys. Fortunately, all my loved ones in South Florida were spared any serious damage or setbacks. Power outages. Nothing more. I was here at South Bay for Hurricane Wilma in 2005. I recalled the disgusting conditions and the savagery that it produced. Similar to the free world, people will take advantage of the suffering of others. Prisoners have the added disadvantage of having to rely on staff to provide our needs when disaster strikes. Moreover, we literally live in our bathrooms, which means when the water turns off it’s a real shitty situation. During Wilma, we were using our Styrofoam lunch trays as Porto-potties. The Wilma experience gave me an advantage this time around. As Irma approached, my roommate and I prepared with a huge triple-lined garbage bag full of water. I would say it held at least twenty gallons. Then, we filled every cup, bowl, and bottle we had with water. Of course, this time around South Bay stood like a mighty fortress. Our water never turned off. We had some temporary power outages and our phones were out of commission. The hardest part was being cooped up staring at the same ugly mugs all day.
Now, I’m looking at how my beautiful island, Puerto Rico, has been flattened by Maria. Although I’ve been to La Isla de Encanta only once (and I was too young to remember much), I still have a connection to the island for obvious reasons. I called my mother last Thursday, and she was worried sick about our family over there. My cousin had to run out of her home for higher ground with her two children because they were taking in water. Then, they had to run out of option two. They ended up at a third home where around thirty people were huddled up. Poor guy’s home ended up being the neighborhood safe house. About ten people in my grandmother’s old neighborhood lost their lives. Thank God she doesn’t live there anymore! We finally heard from our family on Friday and they’re alive, but the island is in shambles. They took up a collection at my mother’s job and it was enough for my mom to purchase a generator to ship over there. I’m a little concerned because now I’m hearing that the gangs in PR have been running around with guns robbing people for their generators. WTF! Makes me ponder the age old question: Is humanity inherently good, or is humanity inherently bad?