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Textile conservator, Gwen Spicer of Spicer Art Conservation at work

Friday, May 31, 2019

Puerto Rico - One Year Later

I sit here comfortably in my home. The lights on, heat when I need it, and even water (this is sporadic due more to regional geographic issues than natural disasters). Even this year in the mid-west crazy events are happening on unusual scales - flooding and endless rainfalls, record numbers of days with tornadoes. Nationally, the incredible weather events this spring make one wonder if some of their underlying causes are related to climate change.

Lost siding from strong winds on the Museo de
Arte de Puerto Rico. 

It was only a year ago I found myself in Puerto Rico surveying collection damage for FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Maria. I was reminded of this fact by FEMA's countdown clock which announced next hurricane season begins June 1st.

Blue tarps on unprepared roofs.

A year later and Puerto Rico's recovery is far from complete. Perhaps a roof has been repaired on an university's library. Volunteers, like me, have come and gone. But I can't helping asking myself if the  the collections that library roof had once protected will ever be the same. Can students safely read the books without masks? Will the staff at the library every resume their jobs or health?

LIbrary at the Universidad de PR-Humacao.
The roof was completely lost.
Circulation dest at the library at the Universidad
de PR-Humacao.

Capuana Ceremonial Ball Courts site, Utuado.
Metal building in Caguas.
Museo Casa Antonio Roig, Humacao.
Moisture in the walls of Casa Alonso, Vega_Baja.

Mold is silent, till it is awakened
Waves of assistance come and go
No electricity or generators,
More mold grows

Am I safe?
Are my loved ones safe?
My home, my belongings?
Yet mold grows

Mixed with a humid climate, mold grows
Stone walls remain wet
Wind can slow it, if at the shore
More mold grows

Collections are disfigured
Collections are distorted
Collections are never the same
As more mold grows

What is the remedy?
Without assistance
More mold grows

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