““This is personal,” says 25-year-old organizer Ashley Hernandez. “This is my home, this is my family, this is my health.”
Hernandez’s parents, immigrants who fled El Salvador’s civil war, had worked diligently to save for their own home in Wilmington by working as a truck dispatcher and a housekeeper. But their home was just 500 feet from a drilling site. As a child, Hernandez was plagued with headaches and nightly nosebleeds so intense the blood would soak through her pillow. Soot would fall in their yard, tremors shook their home, and toxic air burned their eyes.
“There really is no escaping it,” said Hernandez, who is now 25 and still lives in the same home. “I couldn’t go out or have clear air. I felt like a prisoner in my own home. I felt like I couldn’t do anything, really.” ”