Like millions of others in Puerto Rico, Enid Rosa had her normal life washed away in September by Hurricane Maria. Her house in Rincón, a coastal city on the western edge of the island, was inundated. Outside, the flooding was even worse. “It was really bad,” Ms. Rosa said. “But it was scarier after the hurricane: No food. No water. All our basic utilities lost. It was really after the fact that it got scary.”
Ms. Rosa, a single mother of two, had stocked up on bottled water and canned food, but the supply couldn’t last indefinitely. With devastation all around, she felt she had to leave. In mid-October, she took up her brother’s offer of shelter and moved with her children — Ava, 15, and Juan, 9 — into his house in Spring Valley, N.Y.
It was a homecoming of sorts for her. Ms. Rosa, 48, grew up in New York but left for her mother’s home in Puerto Rico after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. She was ready then, she said, to “change my life.” In Rincón, she managed a real estate office. Once back in New York, she wasted no time looking for work and found a job in the accounting department of New York Waterway, the ferry and bus service.
Still, having lost almost everything to the storm, she needed help rebuilding her life. It came from Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, which used $377 from The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund to buy boots, coats and other warm clothes for the children, who were about to experience their first winter in the Northeast. The charity also provided book bags filled with school supplies and, for Ms. Rosa, career counseling and appropriate clothes for job interviews. Ava and Juan took readily to their new circumstances, she said. As for herself, “I’m adapting.”
“Now I’m working,” she said, “and trying to get myself back together.” Her life from now on will be in the New York region, she said, because “there’s no way I can go back.”
The Archdiocese-affiliated organization that helped her get started is one of eight charities that receive donations from the Neediest Cases Fund. The others are Brooklyn Community Services, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, Children’s Aid, the Community Service Society of New York, FPWA (formerly the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies), the International Rescue Committee and UJA-Federation of New York. To help, please make checks payable to The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund and send them to P.O. Box 5193, New York, NY 10087. Donations may also be made with a credit card at (800) 381-0075, or online at nytimes.com/neediest.