Luisa Mercedes, 53, is from Aibonito, a mountain municipality in Puerto Rico haunted by a local myth involving a llorona (Spanish for “crier”). She paints an apocalyptic picture of a world ravaged by wind and water: “We saw the cars under water where we were staying. We saw a light post ripped out at the root.” She’s wearing jeans and a puffer jacket zipped up to her chin.
Springfield and Holyoke in particular have had an influx of displaced Puerto Ricans, coming to stay with their families, in hotels, homeless shelters, and with friends. Beyond the question of what to do for housing as winter settles in comes the concern over employment, and more specifically, what to do for people who have licensure and years of education in their professions.