Copyright Getty Images The sound of rattling generators fill Tarik McMillan’s ears when he wakes up.
The noise is all around him, a mix between a car engine and a really big blender.
On St. Croix, an island where many places still don’t have power, the diesel generators in his neighborhood rumble through the night.
He walks to the kitchen and greets his grandpa, who’s boiling water on a propane stove to make coffee. Without power, the coffeemaker is a museum piece.
It’s been 75 days since Hurricane Maria hammered the US Virgin Islands, and although the buzz of daily life is returning, the storm’s ghost hovers over everything.
Power remains out for more than 60% of the territory. On St. Croix, the largest of the islands, only about a fourth of residents — known as Crucians — have electricity. Many homes still have no roofs. Cell networks are spotty.
This is the new normal for McMillan and the islands’ other residents as they negotiate their daily lives. There’s a gigantic line on their calendar — before Maria, and after. Almost nothing about the two is the same. Morning coffee
Three days before Maria made landfall, McMillan, 25, went to stay with his grandfather. At the time, the 76-year-old was still recovering from surgery. McMillan didn’t want him facing the Category 5 hurricane alone.
Since the storm, life has slowed to a crawl. TV isn’t an option. So McMillan has found new ways to keep busy. He exercises. He reads.
He also got a dog — a pit bull mix — and takes it for walks around the block, noting the hurricane damage to his neighbors’ homes. Some of the houses he had never noticed, because before Maria hit he never walked around his neighborhood.
“There isn’t much talking,” he says. They just wave. On the road
By 11:30 a.m., it’s time for McMillan to head to work. He climbs into his Ford Escape and drives from Christiansted.
Heavy traffic isn’t a problem like it was during the weeks right after Maria, when the islands’ governor imposed curfews to allow emergency crews and utility workers to do their jobs without interruptions.But he’s careful. Many stoplights still aren’t working. And some drivers play “chicken” with each other at intersections to see who’ll go first.All around, McMillan sees the way Maria has rearranged the landscape.”There’s not much that stands out right now,” he says. “Everything feels like it’s been this way for a very long time.”He passes gas stations with crumbled walls. A bushy field across from a graveyard is now a dumping ground for broken branches and battered tree trunks.Everywhere, bright, blue tarps double as temporary roofs.A silver sculpture, with a little-known story about the slave trade in the Caribbean, no longer stands upright on the grounds of one of the island’s two public high schools. Print this article Back to Top Copyright Getty Images Further to the west, the grounds that host the island’s annual agriculture fair remain in disrepair. The hangar-like buildings, usually filled with locally grown […]