Hurricane Maria

Tim Padgett / WLRN News

RIO PIEDRAS – Puerto Rico’s government says power should be fully restored to the island by mid-December. But that’s three months after Hurricane Maria demolished the U.S. territory. And some fear that Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable people can’t wait that long.

Government of Dominica

Since Hurricane Maria crashed through the Caribbean last month, most of the attention has focused on Puerto Rico. But smaller nearby islands were even harder hit. Especially Dominica. It was the first to feel Maria’s Category 5, 160-mph winds. They demolished the country, leaving 27 dead, 50 still missing – and the population of 71,000 still with little access to food, water and power.

Café Hacienda San Pedro, a trendy coffee shop in San Juan, is buzzing. A long line snakes through it. People are chatting; dogs sit snoozing. Everything looks normal.

But in a few months, it probably won't.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has co-signed a letter asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to send more support to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Health-care funding was already tight before the storms, particularly in financially unstable Puerto Rico, where nearly half the population is covered by Medicaid.

Peter Haden / WLRN

Hundreds of anxious South Floridians swarmed the Port Everglades cruise terminal Tuesday morning to welcome a cruise ship transformed into a relief vessel: Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas.

Its storm-weary cargo:  nearly 4,000 evacuees from Puerto Rico and the U-S Virgin Islands fleeing the ravages of Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

The ship represented a new start for some, reunification for others after the one-two punch of hurricanes smashed the Caribbean with devastating force last month, leaving millions without power, homes or jobs.

Peter Haden / WLRN

Around 4,000 hurricane evacuees from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands arrived at Port Everglades Tuesday aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Anxious South Floridians reunited with family members fleeing the devastation of Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

  

Gloria Fredericks came from Saint Croix to stay with her two daughters in Pembroke Pines. Her home -- and neighborhood -- were destroyed by the storm.

Pedro Portal/The Miami Herald

Puerto Ricans fleeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria have already arrived at Florida’s public schools.

Broward County schools took in 128 hurricane refugees last week, mainly from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Miami-Dade district enrolled 31 from Puerto Rico, in addition to the 16 students from the Keys and two from Texas the district got after Irma and Harvey.

School leaders are preparing for what could be a much bigger influx.

Miami Herald

Puerto Ricans on the island are desperate for help following Hurricane Maria. As of this weekend, about 30 percent of the island has telecommunications capabilities; roughly half of supermarkets are open part of the time; and a little more than half of gas stations are pumping. But people need water. They need basic supplies. They need money. 

CNN reports that there are thousands of shipping containers stuck in San Juan's port. Barely 20 percent of truck drivers have returned to work. There's a fuel shortage. Add to that, many roads have not been cleared. 

Al Diaz/Miami Herald

This week's guests on The Florida Roundup with host Tom Hudson include: 

JULIO OCHOA / WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

The C130's four propeller engines scream as it lifts lifts off from MacDill Air Force base in Tampa. The plane is loaded with pallets of medical supplies bound for St. Croix, nine days after the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands took a direct hit from Hurricane Maria.

But the flight's true mission is getting patients in critical need of health care off the island and into hospitals in Columbia, South Carolina and Atlanta.

So far, hundreds of patients have been brought to those hospitals along with facilities in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Courtesy Robert Asencio

Puerto Rico’s hurricane crisis is a reminder that Puerto Ricans are South Florida’s fastest growing population. Puerto Rican state legislator Robert Asencio has just visited the island - and says the disaster may well mean an even bigger Puerto Rican community here.

Photo from Miami Dade College's Facebook page

Puerto Rican students who were displaced by Hurricane Maria will soon be able to continue their studies in South Florida — at a discount.

This week Gov. Rick Scott asked public colleges and universities to offer in-state tuition rates to Puerto Ricans affected by the storm. Many schools responded — and some are going further by extending the offer to people from other places affected by recent natural disasters. And private schools are pitching in, too.

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