The first pictures now coming in from Puerto Rico after taking a direct hit Hurricane Maria slamming into the island.
One official saying the island is destroyed. Hours, hours with winds and rain. It didn’t stop. Power lines are down, streets are impassable, many roads are flooded. High winds uprooting trees, overturning cars, and turning buildings into piles of twisted metal. It is something that will change Puerto Rico forever. We had no water, no food. No gasoline, no communication at all. Not knowing where my next meal would come from… It hasn’t been easy. After Hurricane Maria, everything was gray, all the plants were dead Hurricane Maria took the color away from us. I I am sure that these children will not be the same. They will not be the same. They are still struggling and trying to recover from this. My name is Joe Acaba.
I’m a NASA astronaut of Puerto Rican descent. I was about a week into my mission on the International Space Station. Hurricane Maria was forming up, and from there, if you looked out the window, You know, Maria took up a big chunk of what we could see it was going to cover the entire It was going to cover the entire island. After the hurricane, their power grid was pretty much taken out. You just couldn’t see the island anymore. The hurricane I think had a huge impact on you know, the the island as a whole but especially the kids. Joe Acaba was our hero, and
we needed something positive. The students needed
something positive. We wanted to pull through, forget all that happened, and lift up our spirits, and lift up the island. So, I knew I couldn’t do much from up on
the International Space Station But I did want to connect with the students to show them that there is hope, and that there are people out there they care about them. NASA has the STEM On Station which allows the students and teachers to talk to the astronauts in the space station. It’s making that connection so that maybe you know, they become more interested and we can inspire them more to study the STEM fields. So we were able to establish and coordinate with NASA one of these video conferences.
Thousands of student from different parts of the island watching the video conference
with the space station, talking to Joe. This is Joe aboard the International Space Station I have you loud and clear. [OVERLAPPING QUESTIONS] It was awesome because you know as soon as it came up you could hear people clapping people were excited So even though I couldn’t see him, you know, I could feel him and that was pretty neat. It was amazing.
He called from the International Space Station. To see how Puerto Rico was doing,
and that means a lot a lot for us. A lot. In May of 2018, I was able to go back to the island.
My first time since the hurricane. it was a great opportunity to to get out and kind of come full circle with those students, to go and see them in person and you know kind of reiterate how important they are and Just to give them a little bit more hope because there’s still a long way to go on the island He’s a hero for us. Kids love him. Everybody loves him here. Joe Acaba is the role model
that we need at this time. I want to be like him. I want to go far and I want to be an
example for little kids when I’m older. Not only is the International Space
Station a great tool for scientific research and exploration, but for students from Puerto Rico in
particular, I think that having that Videoconference with them it did provide some hope.
It did provide some inspiration. And so it’s just one of the… one of the benefits that we get from the International Space Station