Our Family in the Aftermath of Hurricanes
As an island in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico has historically been in the direct path of hurricanes. Out of the ones shown on this map, three that have had the most impact on our family are San Ciriaco, San Felipe II, and Georges.
San Ciriaco was a category 4 hurricane that made landfall in Guayama on August 8, 1899, with winds of 140 mph. In the context of our family history, our patriarch, Florencio Rivera, was 27 years old and married to his first wife, Felícita Madera. She was six months pregnant with their son, Andrés. With typical homes in those days made out of wood and having zinc roofs, the damage done to structures was devastating. Although San Ciriaco killed about 3,000 people, I have no record of family members having lost their lives during this hurricane.
San Felipe II, a category 5 hurricane, hit Puerto Rico on September 13, 1928, entering near Arroyo. It resulted in over 300 deaths. Angélica Rivera, daughter of Florencio Rivera and Otilia Pacheco, was born just two weeks later. I can imagine the terror that the family endured with this powerful hurricane. They were living in Ponce, which is west of where the hurricane made landfall. (more…)