Syra Ortiz-Blanes

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Rubble surrounding the Iglesia Inmaculada Concepción in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, last Tuesday. Credit Erika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times

My great-grandmother Syra was 5 years old when the San Fermín earthquake hit Puerto Rico in 1918. Her school day had just begun in Mayagüez when the earth began to shake. She held onto the guardrails and made her way out of the building as the stairs were collapsing. My tatarabuela, or great-great-grandmother, María Ana ran through the still-shaking town to retrieve her. As they reached their home, they saw the sea pulling out into itself. Miraculously their house did not flood; my tatarabuela credited the rosary she hung in her garden. The quake, registered at a magnitude of 7.3, and ensuing tsunami killed 116 people and caused $4 million in damages.…  Seguir leyendo »