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‘I Need A Strong House’: After Maria, One Puerto Rican Grapples With How To Rebuild

Angel Joel Alvarez Lopez stands by a doorway of his timber residence above his mother’s concrete residence in a Bayamon municipality outward San Juan, Puerto Rico, that was broken by Hurricane Maria. He built this wood-and-tin second building further about 15 years ago.

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Angel Joel Alvarez Lopez stands by a doorway of his timber residence above his mother’s concrete residence in a Bayamon municipality outward San Juan, Puerto Rico, that was broken by Hurricane Maria. He built this wood-and-tin second building further about 15 years ago.

Angel Valentin for NPR

Rain is pouring true by a unclothed wooden beams that used to be Angel Joel Alvarez Lopez’s roof.

Hurricane Maria razed off half of a tin roof, and bloody all though 3 of his windows purify out of a wooden walls. A ancillary wall fell off and has been fast battered behind into place.

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Two weeks after a storm, Lopez and his partner Liz Vazquez Ojeda are unconditional out H2O as it rains into a structure. On a floor, his effects – ball trophies, slimy pillows, an overturned cooler, a raise of water-saturated bills – brew with disfigured pieces of tin from a roof and soppy leaves.

Liz Vazquez Ojeda and her beloved Angel Joel Alvarez Lopez mount with his son Angel Alvarez Morales, 14, inside their timber house. “Next time we build, I’m going to build concrete walls,” Lopez says.

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Informal building is common in Puerto Rico – internal journal El Nuevo Dia says supervision total uncover that there are some 75,000 homes built though permits on a island.

These structures, that are not built according to reserve regulations, are assembled by families purchasing a materials and doing it themselves. Sometimes it’s a whole building – sometimes, like in Lopez’s case, it’s a weaker further to an existent structure.

Liz Vazquez Ojeda sweeps H2O from a sleet showering on a floor. The roof was broken during a hurricane.

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Liz Vazquez Ojeda sweeps H2O from a sleet showering on a floor. The roof was broken during a hurricane.

Angel Valentin for NPR

Now, he’s confronting months of building forward of him. “Next time we build, I’m going to build concrete walls,” he says. “I need a new house. we like this house, though we need a clever house.”

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Facing this absolute hurricane, even homes built according to formula would not have indispensably been guaranteed to survive. Most of a homes were built before 2011, when a building formula became some-more stringent, El Nuevo Dia reported. Before, buildings had to be means to withstand winds of 125 mph, and after, they had to withstand 145 mph winds.

When a whirly done landfall, it was blustering limit postulated winds of 155 mph.

Lopez picks adult soppy electric bills inside of his home. Facing this absolute hurricane, even homes built according to formula would not indispensably have been guaranteed to survive.

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FEMA hasn’t started inspecting buildings for damage, and it’s not transparent when it will begin, a FEMA orator tells NPR. That routine could potentially validate people with shop-worn homes for a grant, a orator says, regardless of either they were creatively built to code. FEMA has supposing Lopez with $500 so far, after he practical for assistance.

But looking around during his rain-soaked property, it’s transparent that Lopez needs to take movement quickly. He has no word on his home and has started a routine of requesting for a loan. He skeleton to approve with building regulations when he reconstructs a addition. But he wonders how to do that exactly, when it’s not transparent if impressed supervision workers will be means to lift out building formula inspections anytime soon. He laughs. “I’m waiting.”

Lopez tries to pierce a wire by a doorway of his home built above his mother’s concrete house. He says he wasn’t wakeful of any building codes during a time of construction. There are some 75,000 homes built though permits on a island, according to supervision figures.

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Lopez is a handyman, and he’s starting work Tuesday as a paramedic – a pursuit he took on to try to compensate for a repairs. That will leave him with 4 giveaway hours in a afternoon to sleep.

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Lopez and Ojeda are now sleeping in his 14-year-old son’s room, where they fun that a bed is sorcery since it seems to somehow still be dry notwithstanding a H2O pooling on a building and drizzling from a ceiling.

But he’s means to moment jokes – as he walked out of his home, he delicately sealed a doorway – “so a mosquitos don’t get in.”

And he has found beauty in a new, windowless perspective in a room where he slept before a roof blew off.

Liz Vazquez Ojeda and Lopez are still means to moment jokes. Lopez is a handyman, and he’s starting work Tuesday as a paramedic – a pursuit he took on to try to compensate for a repairs.

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The hurricane’s winds have nude leaves off trees, withdrawal him with a remarkably transparent perspective all a approach to San Juan. The object starts entrance out and a rainbow appears. “It’s fresh,” he says.

The stream situation, he hopes, is usually a “temporary nightmare.”