Homes and infrastructure lie in ruins outside the city of Caguas, Puerto Rico, on Oct. 3. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

Nahir Ortiz, 14, cries in her grandmother’s arms at the family’s local church in the hurricane-ravaged town of Caonillas, Puerto Rico, on Oct. 1. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

For three decades, I’ve been traveling throughout Latin America, though I had never made it to Puerto Rico. I finally made it there last week, and my first visit was not under the best of circumstances. Hurricane Maria had taken a terrible trajectory, right over this emerald gem. It turned forests into lifeless patches of bare trunks and plunged the island back into the preindustrial era. There is no electricity in most of the territory, and running water is scarce.

What Maria didn’t do, however, was diminish the graciousness, tenacity and will of the Puerto Rican people. The “Boricuas,” as they are known, a reference to the indigenous people who once populated the island, were without exception warm and open as we crisscrossed the island photographing and reporting on the damage. There was little to no aid coming in, so residents cleared the roads themselves, made sure their neighbors were taken care of and prayed together in damaged churches. The island left a powerful impression on me, and I hope to return to keep documenting its recovery.


A woman looks out a door at her church in Caonillas, Puerto Rico. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

Church services resumed in Caonillas, Puerto Rico. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

The Utuado region of the interior of Puerto Rico on Sept. 26. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

Members of the community work Sept. 29 to clear a road that was covered by mudslides in Caonillas. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

Gladys Rivera Rodriguez is overcome with emotion standing in the bedroom of her home, where the roof was ripped off, on Sept. 29. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

Motorists stopped at a natural spring that has been tapped with makeshift pipes to provide water in Utuado on Sept. 29. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

A classic Oldsmobile sits surrounded by debris and mud in a parking spot next to a house. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

Elsie Serrano weeps when she is told she can buy only one bag of ice after waiting in line for three hours in Utuado on Sept. 26. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

Buildings, their electricity still out, line a street in the Condado neighborhood of San Juan on Oct. 4. It could be months before electricity is restored to parts of the island’s capital city. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

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In Sight is The Washington Post photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.