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FGCU Documentary Explores Recovery In Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria

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Florida Gulf Coast University
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Florida Gulf Coast University will premiere a documentary this week about the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico after a category five hurricane devastated the island in 2017.

"Voices Boricuas" is the work of 10 FGCU researchers from several disciplines focused on the environmental and financial obstacles the island faces while trying to rebuild as well as the resiliency and determination of its people.

Working on the documentary was the first time FGCU biology major, Paola Reyes, did a collaborative project with other departments.

“I did research on the diaspora and the Puerto Ricans that came from Puerto Rico to (mainland) United States and the Puerto Ricans that  decided to stay after Hurricane Maria in the island,” Reyes said.  “And then professor Braddy worked with communications and some myths from Puerto Rico, and professor Everham worked with sustainability and politics and economy.”

FGCU professor of ecology and environmental studies, Win Everham, said it was important to those working on the project to approach the story of recovery holistically.

“At universities, in scholarship and academia we often focus very narrowly on some little box, and so this was one of those opportunities where we were busting out of those little boxes,” Everham said.  “So I think it seems weird to say, ‘how can you tell all those stories?,’ but the truth is, if you tell a true story about a place, it has all those pieces and I hope we told a true story.” 

Everham said he hopes the documentary resonates with viewers.

“Puerto Rico is a cool place, the people are cool people,” Everham said. “We didn’t help them as much as we should of, but they have tremendous capacity to help themselves. I would still like people to walk away with ‘what can I do?’

The premiere of "Voices Boricuas" is open to the public and will be shown on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at FGCU’s main campus at 6 p.m..

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Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and was also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.