Update on Nyack’s Seminary Branch in Puerto Rico

Nyack College/Alliance Theological Seminary’s President Michael G. Scales was able to communicate with Nyack/ATS Executive Director Dr. Julio Aponte (pictured) who was at Nyack’s branch campus in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Because of damage to towers, mobile signals are extremely sporadic, but Dr. Aponte was able to charge a cellphone in his car.

The best news? There is no loss of life or injury to the campus community, as far as is known. Many communities are not yet reached and most communication is down. The worst news is that the island remains without power, after the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria and on the heels of the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Irma. A 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew remains in effect, under the orders of Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello.

“I am 66 years old,” Dr. Aponte shares. “I have seen many storms, but nothing like this. This was a monster! This was no comparison to other storms.”

“We have drinking water…and food that should be enough for 25 days. Though main roads are open, the shortage of gasoline is another problem.” He shared there are scenes of endless cues of cars waiting on line to get gas.

On the condition of the seminary, Dr. Aponte reports there are broken windows; shattered glass throughout the facility; carpeting is wet on the second and third floors; despite the wet carpeting in the library, books are in good condition; one classroom is severely damaged and the acoustic ceiling was blown down.

“We are speaking to contractors about clean-up. We would like to install concrete blocks where the windows are blown out,” says Dr. Aponte.

The University of Puerto Rico’s 11 campuses and central office are closed as are other area universities and schools. This marks several weeks of cancelled classes at Nyack’s Seminario Teológico de Puerto Rico. Dr. Aponte’s biggest concern for his students is resuming the semester. Though he would like to open the campus in a week and extend the semester into December, the prediction for when power will be restored to Puerto Rico is from two to three months. Obtaining a generator is the ultimate solution for the campus, especially as one looks to the future.

While the campus community is not without hope, Dr. Aponte assesses the circumstances as “disheartening to look at the condition of the facility we have built. Thankfully our investment in people is eternal.”

Continued prayers are coveted for Dr. Aponte and his wife, Elena, as well as for the faculty, staff and students at Seminario Teológico de Puerto Rico.

If you are interested in helping to rebuild and strengthen the infrastructure of Seminario Teológico de Puerto Rico, please contact Nyack’s Vice President for College Relations Jeff Quinn, by emailing collegerelations@nyack.edu or phoning 845.675.4589 or 866.721.7946 (toll-free).