The Aftermath: Post Hurricane Maria – Puerto Rico -( Part 5 of 5)
It’s been about a year and half since Hurricane Maria went through the Caribbean. In this first segment, I have reached out to a few of our ABC members based in Puerto Rico to see how Hurricane Maria affected their business, and what their progress has been. I asked them a few questions, and after I received their responses I decided to feature their stories separately. While finalizing the content, I saw that Jimmy Fallon was recording a show in Puerto Rico. I have shared it below, in case you missed it. It was awesome, but most importantly it will prepare you to understand what our ABC members went through and how they survived.
Part 5 of 5: Meet ABC Member Lizzie Ibarra, Lizzie Ibarra Hair & Airbrush Make-up, San Juan Puerto Rico
Based in Puerto Rico and works throughout Miami and Virgin Islands
Puerto Rico has been a very important destination for grand celebrations such as weddings. For Americans, you have a marvelous paradise, with the crystal blue ocean as a backdrop and after all- no passport needed.
Before Maria hit, I could have almost all weekends booked to do make-up and hair, even the week was booked for an elopement party of 1 or 2. Before hurricane Maria, my wedding workload was from 4-5 or more weddings per week.
On September 2017- we were hit first with hurricane Irma, then the big one, Maria. After Maria made landfall, on September 21, electric power was knocked down, no water, no communication, limited food and gas we couldn’t even drive around to see the scope of this hit. Maria caused an historical and unimaginable amount of damage to our precious paradise, our “Isla del Encanto” (Island of Enchantment). The venues were destroyed, most of the hotels were so damaged that they closed indefinitely, others closed temporarily to have renovations, airlines cancelled flights. There were no basic supplies- all of this affected my work. Eventually, I began to receive wedding cancellations, around 11 cancellations from clients that planned to marry between Sept 2017- January 2018.
As soon as I had the chance, I relocated temporarily in Miami with my sister. There, I had the opportunity to work with clients that also re-located to Miami and I had the chance to work in Telemundo’s “Master Chef Latino” for 6 weeks. My electricity came back on November 2017 and I moved back to PR. Most of my clients didn’t have water or electricity, so I was basically a godsend as at least I could do their hair. Business was not as strong as before but I was working. By mid-2018, I was back on track. People around the world noticed our little island and we experimented an organic boom. Soon I was receiving calls to book weddings. Most of the brides that cancelled, refused to re-locate their weddings, they wanted to marry in our paradise even if they had to change to a later date. I was also called to work on 2 TV series that started before Maria, THE OATH and START-UP. The producers even decided to tape a second season.
Then came Lin Manuel Miranda, a major highlight for me so far. Lin-Manuel Miranda, his family and Jeffrey Seller, producer of HAMILTON, announced the creation of the Flamboyan Arts Fund in partnership with the Flamboyan Foundation. “Hamilton” was brought to Puerto Rico. The Hamilton production not only raised funds to re-build the arts in PR, it supported the renovation of 2 important venues in PR- The theater at the University of PR and Bellas Artes Theater. The production also employed around 300 Puerto Ricans to work on the play, I was one of them. I was hired as the personal stylist Lin-Manuel and to his father. This was an unique first-hand experience on which I’ve got to meet wonderful people.
The exposure was huge and boosted PR tourism, particularly, Jimmy Fallon’s PR special. The Puerto Rican strength and resilience as a united community, eager to work to re-build our beautiful island was shown worldwide.
February 1, 2019
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