Where Hurricane Maria First Made Landfall, Songs Memorialize The Tragedy At 6:15 a.m. on Sept. 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall on the shores of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. One year later to the minute, and at the same spot, a choir memorialized that tragedy with song.
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Where Hurricane Maria First Made Landfall, Songs Memorialize The Tragedy

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Where Hurricane Maria First Made Landfall, Songs Memorialize The Tragedy

Where Hurricane Maria First Made Landfall, Songs Memorialize The Tragedy

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A year ago today, Hurricane Maria cut a destructive path across Puerto Rico, flattening the power grid, destroying tens of thousands of homes and ultimately causing an estimated 3,000 deaths. The first town hit, the place where Maria made landfall, was Yabucoa. And that's where NPR's Adrian Florido was this morning.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Margarita Torres Rivera lives in Yabucoa in a little house overlooking the Atlantic. She watched the storm come in and remembers that Wednesday morning a year ago as if it were yesterday.

MARGARITA TORRES RIVERA: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORIDO: "It was like a fury," she says. "We all just resigned ourselves to God's will and prayed that he'd have compassion for our island." She says the recovery over the last year has been difficult because of mistreatment from the federal government and from President Trump.

RIVERA: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORIDO: Today she says she decided not to think about the troubles of the last year but to try to look ahead. So this morning, she woke up before sunrise and took a little walk to a point overlooking the ocean. Alberto Carrion, a well-known composer, had come to sing a song with the choir from the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey.

ALBERTO CARRION: (Singing in Spanish).

This song represents, like, a new beginning. Like, it's called "Amanecer Borincano," which is a Borinquen sunrise.

FLORIDO: Borinquen is a precolonial name for Puerto Rico.

AMARILIS PAGAN-VILA: This is the exact place where the hurricane Maria came into the island last year.

FLORIDO: Amarilis Pagan-Vila is the choir's conductor.

PAGAN-VILA: So we wanted to commemorate that day singing this song that speaks about waking up again with a new spirit. And we wanted to do that song exactly at the time, 6:15, when Hurricane Maria came into the island.

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing in Spanish).

FLORIDO: The performance was carried by many local TV and radio stations, a brief respite for many Puerto Ricans still struggling to recover from last year's tragedy. Adrian Florido, NPR News, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing in Spanish).

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