A special look at Puerto Rico

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It’s not just that we’re located on this beautiful Caribbean island and U.S. territory. It’s also that Puerto Rico has become one of the world’s climate change ground zeros following the September 20, 2017 devastation of Hurricane María, from which it is still recovering.

Part I: Overview

Here are five original articles published in 2018 by TRJ Editor Alex Díaz, as the island dealt with the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Part II: Santurce

The coast to the left, facing north, is fast-eroding Condado Beach, and the pond at center is Condado Lagoon, highlights of the world renowned tourist district. The neighborhood just south of that, on the other side of the Baldorioty Highway you see bottom-right, is the historic and today hipster Santurce neighborhood. Ten minutes west on Baldorioty (below the picture) is Old San Juan, 15 minutes north is the international airport.

Condado is flat up to the highway. Walk across and you start a climb up to an elevation that features the east-to-west, hyper-urban Ponce De León and Fernandez Juncos avenues. As the climate emergency kicks into high gear and approaches or overshoots the feared 2 degree Celsius temperature rise in the next 20 years, sea levels are expected to disable Condado. One logical scenario has people and tourism assets moving up the road. To Santurce.

And not just from Condado. Countless communities across the San Juan metro area cannot escape the coming wave of epic coastal and river flooding and will be looking for a higher-elevation place to move that can provide the available housing, central location and urban amenities offered by Santurce as by no other place in the capital city.

And not just flooding and sea level. People will also look to escape life disruptions caused by a host of other severe climate hits, which have turned ever-more frequent and intense: hurricanes, of course, and heat waves, droughts, wildfires, plagues, to name the most common.

But will Santurce be ready? Better yet, what will it take for it to be ready? It is a question being asked by a growing number of communities not just around Puerto Rico, but around the world, given the little time remaining and the monumental obstacles presented by such a massive migration.

To get a sense of how this would apply to Santurce, TRJ approached Sagrado Corazón University located on the west end of Santurce, in partnership with the university’s Nuestro Barrio (Our Neighborhood) program that promotes a cultural and entrepreneurial renaissance in the area, and the SCU School of Communications. We asked a group of SCU journalism students to take a look at various dimensions of the challenge. Here are their posts, written during the 2018 fall semester. The stories, listed below by theme, were done in Spanish to spark a wider reading and we hope decisive action by local residents.