On September 20, 2017, Twitter user and university student Michelle H. set off to save an injured bird from Hurricane Maria’s heavy winds and relentless rainfall outside of her dorm in the Río Piedras area of San Juan.
Little did she know that her dorm room would become a bird refuge through the duration of the storm. Following the initial tweet of her first bird rescue, Michelle could not bear the thought of these defenseless creatures being swept away by the heavy winds.
She and her friends set off to save as many birds as they could. Equipped with gloves and blankets, Michelle and her crew documented their rescues on Twitter. A series of video tweets and updates would soon follow, illustrating a steady increase in the number of birds she and her friends have saved.
Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico as a category 4 storm, the most powerful to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years! Wind speeds measured at a whopping 155 mph when the storm made landfall. You can only imagine how tough life would be as a tiny bird flying in those conditions.
“75 percent of them were tired and injured,” Michelle wrote on Twitter. “The rest were perfectly fine but couldn’t go anywhere because of the winds. Most of them were [on] the floor.” Michelle lined her dorm room with blankets, paper, and tree branches to ensure the birds’ comfort.
Eventually Michelle’s room housed 90 injured and exhausted birds. Without her help, these birds would have surely encountered catastrophic hurricane winds and conditions.
The hurricane’s aftermath confirmed devastation when Michelle and her friends counted several unlucky birds — falling victim to strong winds, downed trees, and debris. After hurricane Maria’s passing, Michelle released each bird well enough to go back into the wild one by one.
People and animals are still heavily impacted by Hurricane Maria’s destruction and they need our help more than ever. If you’d like to help, follow the link below.
Mitchell Canh is a West Michigan resident and enjoys exploring the great outdoors. He lives by the Vietnamese proverb and his family's motto: "The good leaves protect the worn-out leaves." He hopes to protect the Earth and its inhabitants from climate change and pollution.