This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Carlos Soriano was entering his 9th-grade year at a vocational school in northwestern Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria barreled through the island.
The storm wrecked his hometown of Moca, denuding the lush garden that once wove through his school’s campus. He still thinks about the aftermath of Maria – the wreckage of that garden and the looters who ransacked his town.
“I feel safer, but still, like, if there’s a little bit of noise, I still wake up,” he said. “And I wake up like three times a night, usually.”
About a month later — with his school still closed — the aspiring architect left his mother in Puerto Rico and moved in with his dad in North Philadelphia.
He enrolled at Olney Charter High School, a school of about 2,000 in the heart of Philadelphia’s Puerto Rican community.