Holyoke pays tribute to Hurricane Maria victims to mark one year anniversary

Hampden County

It was one year ago today that Hurricane Maria first made landfall in Puerto Rico.

Though Holyoke is more than 1600 miles from Puerto Rico, the city is still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Multiple events brought hundreds of people together Thursday night to remember and support each other’s struggles over the past year.

“We wanted to remind people that Puerto Ricans have a history here in the city of Holyoke,” said Event Coordinator Maria Salgado-Cartagena. “Our people are still suffering in Puerto Rico, our people are still suffering here in Holyoke so for me it evokes a lot of emotion.”

Thursday’s events included a silent march through South Holyoke, writing letters to loved ones in Puerto Rico and a service sharing stories of struggle and remembering lives that were lost.

Dozens died when the storm hit the island, and nearly 3,000 died in the following months. 

Despite the tragedy, those who took part in these remembrance events said Puerto Ricans everywhere are staying united.

“I lost a lot of family members there that I didn’t even know,” Jasmin Reyes of Holyoke added. “I feel like they are with me right now. It connects me with other Puerto Ricans who lost loved ones so I know how they feel and what they go through it’s hard.”

It took almost a year to fully restore electrical power to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

Residents there are still recovering from the storm.

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