It’s been over a little over a week since Hurricane Maria battered the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, and reports indicate the island’s 3.4 million residents are still without power. According to CNN, necessary resources like food, drinking water, medical supplies, and medicine are scarce, and that’s to say nothing of the billions of dollars in damage the storm reportedly caused.
Many have criticized the United State’s government's slow response to help the people of Puerto Rico who, it’s worth noting, are American citizens. In the absence of federal assistance, several companies and public figures have stepped up to lend a hand. For example, Royal Caribbean has sent at least three of its cruise ships to evacuate stranded tourists and deliver key resources, while Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line have taken similar actions. On the celebrity side, rapper Pitbull flew cancer patients from Puerto Rico to the United States via his private plane, and fellow stars including Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, and Daddy Yankee have all donated large sums of money to relief efforts.
Though Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor doesn’t have a private plane or millions of dollars at her disposal, the 63-year-old with family in Puerto Rico (many of whom she was only recently able to contact) has offered her assistance in a different way — through a powerful message of support to the island’s residents.
Sotomayor’s message was recorded in Spanish on September 26 and, according to HuffPost, later broadcasted on WKAQ 580, a local radio station in Puerto Rico. The missive was then posted on Facebook by radio commentator Jay Fonseca, and later translated by New York Magazine writer Cristian Farias.
Per that translation Sotomayor, the first Hispanic person on the Supreme Court, told the people of Puerto Rico, “Our hearts are anguished in the face of so much devastation and destruction that [Hurricane] Maria caused. And now we face the great task of reconstruction. But above all, we are united in the firm belief that Puerto Rico will persevere. The incredible spirit and strength of the Puerto Rican people is unbreakable.”
Calling out Puerto Rican residents specifically, she added, “For the people on the island, I want you to know that you are not alone. Your families and friends, along with private and public organizations, have already begun to mobilize to send help. Through our ability to work hard, the Isla del Encanto will be reborn as a beacon of hope.”
And in conclusion, Sotomayor, who was born in New York to Puerto Rican parents, declared her love for the damaged island. “Puerto Rico will not only survive this. It will bloom once again,” she said. “My beloved Puerto Rico, I embrace you with love and hope. I hope to see you in a not-so-distant future.”
Sotomayor’s moving message comes just as all five of the living former U.S. presidents — Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — announced a fundraising campaign for Puerto Rico disaster relief. To donate, click here.
Cover image via Pete Souza / White House.