Bronx vigil honors lives lost to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

Posted: Updated:

A vigil at a Bronx church on Thursday remembered the lives that were cut short by Hurricane Maria, the ferocious storm that barreled onto Puerto Rico’s shores exactly one year ago.

The vigil at Holy Family Church in Unionport was attended by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and rapper Fat Joe, along with community members. Among the attendees was Lizmarie Garcia, a Puerto Rican woman who made the difficult decision to leave her disaster-struck home with her two young children, who have autism.

Garcia, a single mother, worked as a social worker on her home island. She moved into her sister's home in New York in December to get back on her feet.

"My parents, I miss them," she says . "I miss my family, my friends and everything."

MORE: Report says nearly 3,000 deaths in Puerto Rico linked to Maria

At the event, Gov. Cuomo slammed the federal government and accused it of failing to provide the same aid to Puerto Rico that it did when storms hit Texas and Florida.

"The people of Puerto Rico are American citizens and this nation had no right to forget that," Cuomo says.

Hurricane Maria roared onto Puerto Rico's shores in September of 2017, plunging the island into darkness, crippling its infrastructure and leveling homes.

Researchers from George Washington University hired by Puerto Rico's government estimated last month that 2,975 people had died because of Maria in the six months after it made landfall, a number Puerto Rico has accepted as official. An after-action report by FEMA found it had underestimated the food and fresh water needed, and how hard it would be to get supplies to the island.

Despite the tragedy left in the Maria’s wake, Garcia remains optimistic.

"I feel hope for the future," she says.

Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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