Denver woman recalls losing grandmother in aftermath of Hurricane Maria

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DENVER -- Last year, Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico. The storm devastated the island.

The impacts are still felt today. Almost one year later, a Denver woman shared the story of how she says she lost her grandmother in the aftermath.

Issa Lopez, who runs a voiceover company in Denver, recalls feeling like she was punched in the gut when the category four storm made landfall.

“I thought Erika, ‘Oh my gosh the elderly people,’" Lopez said.

Then she thought about her 90-year-old grandmother Ana, who lived in a nursing home on the eastern side of the island.

Ana died 10 months later, but not before she lived through devastating conditions the storm left behind.

The island went dark. It took months to restore electricity in parts of the island. Water was in short supply. Homes and roads were damaged.

“My aunt didn’t know how she was going to keep the insulin going. That affected a lot of people including my grandma,” Lopez said. “She was about 10 to 12 days with very minimal water."

Ana spent months after the hurricane bouncing back and forth between hospitals and nursing homes.

“All those people who were in the house would only get electricity at night with a generator. It was from 90, 100 degrees in the day and they were getting AC for about an hour a day,” Lopez said.

A couple of weeks after the storm, Lopez said her grandmother developed an ulcer.

“She had to wait two weeks to get care for that,” Lopez said.

She believes the ulcer was  a turning point in her grandmother’s health. She died July 12.

“She passed away and I’m grateful that she was around people that loved her,” Lopez said.

Lopez says her grandma is just one story and nothing compared to the desperation other Puerto Ricans faced.

Last month, government officials revised the hurricane’s initial death count from 64 to 2,975.

Lopez said her grandma was old and did have health issues, but she believes she would still be here today if things after the hurricane were different.

She says she wishes the government's response was larger and faster.

Today, Lopez looks to the future and holds on to the pride her grandma inspired.

“My people are strong people and we will not give up.”

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