Church, school honors victims of Hurricane Maria, Fiona with ceremony

ORLANDO, Fla. — The bang of drums and whirl of colorful dresses could be seen inside the Episcopal Churches of Christ the King and Jesus de Nazaret Wednesday night as part of a traditional ceremony to honor the victims of Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico.


The two hurricanes, hitting the island almost exactly five years apart, both caused deaths, the loss of power on the island and tore apart homes.

La Escuela de Bomba y Plena Tata Cepeda guided the belén, which started with somber music to honor those whose lives were lost, and gradually shifted to more joyous tunes welcoming the road ahead.

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READ: Hurricane Fiona to send big waves, strong rip current threat to Florida east coast

“It is extremely hard. Basically, I have all of my family in Puerto Rico,” school leader Barbara Liz Cepeda said. “I believe that at the same time is very good that I’m over here because I can help them and send all those relief efforts that they need.”

Those supplies included flashlights and batteries to help families without power and cash donations to rebuild. Church leaders said they would be seeking data about net migration to Florida after the storm, as the community experienced post-Maria.

READ: ‘It’s like a loop happening again’: Hurricane Fiona brings back memories of Maria in Puerto Rico

For one night, though, the focus was on tradition and honor. With every slap of a drum and wave of fabric, the community brought culture to life.

“[The response] has been more than we have expected,” Cepeda said. “I’m really proud of all Central Floridians.”

Read: Relief efforts for Puerto Rico underway after island hit by Hurricane Fiona

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.