TOA BAJA, Puerto Rico (WABC) -- Business is just about back to normal at Eduardo Davila's supermarket in Toa Baja. It took six months of renovation and restoration after Hurricane Maria did this to his store one year ago.
"The winds took the sign, the lights, the roof," said Davila, 'and ripped out the utility pole."
Exactly one year ago Thursday, the monster storm swamped the municipality in roof-high floodwaters.
Roughly 80,000 people lost everything. Newly formed organizations like 'Puerto Rico for Puerto Rico' came to the rescue. They ask for - and got contributions from Puerto Ricans on the mainland, and used that money to help victims on the island.
"We cannot do anything without the diaspora. All the money that you sent is automatically sent to people in need," said Mariacarmen Morera.
Many of the newly-formed relief organizations focused their effort on avoiding government red tape, which so often delayed the response to people who need immediate help.
"The bureaucracy is huge. So we need the money quickly," Mariacarmen added.
That's why those at Thursday's anniversary gathering at Toa Baja not only mourned the thousands who died in the storm, but also praised the thousands whose generosity saved countless lives.
Puerto Rico supermarket 'just about' back to normal following renovations after Hurricane Maria