Eliud Echevarría, a Puerto Rico-based photographer presently employed as a photojournalist for the United States of America's Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has cataloged a series of images that he says show the devastation of his homeland in the wake of the dreadfully powerful Hurricane Maria.
Hurricane Maria was a category storm that hit the island of Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, nearly a month ago as of this article’s publication.
A category four storm means that the hurricane had sustained wind speeds in excess of 155 miles per hour. At this category, Hurricane Maria was one of the most powerful storms to strike Puerto Rico in over 90 years of meteorological history for the island.
Because of the force of the hurricane’s winds, the island’s infrastructure, particularly its industry and agriculture, is largely decimated with much of the countryside surrounding the heartland inaccessible due to washed out roads and collapsed bridges.
With much of the island’s industrial capacity destroyed, many of the 3.4 million residents of Puerto Rico are without power or telecommunications services.
Transportation of people and goods across the island is arduous because of the number of roads made impassable by downed trees and power lines. All of this combines to make relief efforts that much more difficult.
As part of his assignment for FEMA, Eliud Echevarría documented the devastation in the communities of Barranquitas, Utuado, Lares, and Naranjito, municipalities located at the heart of the island of Puerto Rico.
In collaboration with Puerto Rico United Forces of Rapid Action (FURA) pilots, Echevarría captured photos that attempted to convey to the outside world the scale and magnitude of the devastation on the island. His photos were captured at a shutter speed of 1/2000 with an 80-200mm lens which Echevarría considers ideal for capturing aerial photos.
His photos were captured at a shutter speed of 1/2000 with an 80-200mm lens which Echevarría considers ideal for capturing aerial photos.
Discussing his work for FEMA in a blog post on Peta Pixel, Echevarría says “Every day since the passing of Hurricane Maria, I’ve worked with FEMA and other federal and local agencies to assess and record the devastation on the island and its recovery efforts. Doing this kind of work, I generally see the destruction that natural disasters bring to different communities, but seeing it and living it from my island, it’s a totally different perspective.”
For its part, the photography community has organized a relief effort. Photographers Chelsea and Tony Northrup have started a charity to deliver clean drinking water to Puerto Rico. It is currently four thousand dollars US shy of its $40,000 goal. You can contribute to the fund by clicking here.
You can follow Eliud Echevarría’s Instagram by clicking here.