BY ALEXANDER C. KAUFMAN, MARCH 6, 2019
The island of Vieques is still struggling after the hurricanes of 2017, but its most famous tree offers hope.
It’s been a year and a half since hurricanes Irma and Maria pummeled Vieques, a tiny island of off Puerto Rico’s eastern coast, and still many homes lay in rubble, electric wires hang precariously from poles, and a crippled cargo ferry system causes shortages of groceries.
The flora, too, bear the scars of the most destructive storms in modern American history.
Patches of leafless gray splotch mangroves that once covered nearly half the 52-square-mile island in greenery. Wind-resistant palms, their trunks snapped by fierce gusts, remain permanently hunched.
Yet an ancient ceiba tree Viequenses consider sacred is staging a remarkable comeback, one that symbolizes the resilience of the island itself for some residents.