Puerto Rico

A jittery group of middle-schoolers is about to start the first day of classes since September, when Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico and totally disrupted the island's school system.

The vast majority of the island's public schools — more than 98 percent — are open for at least part of the day, according to Puerto Rico's Department of Education.

Yaneli Gonzalez / WLRN News

Seven humanitarian groups from all over the country came together Sunday under the umbrella of the Puerto Rico Recovery Alliance to bring much-needed aid to the island.  

Ever since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the groups of volunteers that make up the alliance have been making individual trips to the U.S. territory to help.

Their mission on Sunday was to deliver 30,000 pounds of medical supplies to hospitals in Puerto Rico — and evacuate about 80 people in need of medical assistance or other support they can’t get on the island.

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Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

While Puerto Rico slowly recovers from the destruction of Hurricane Maria in September, hospitals on the mainland are dealing with some of the side effects of that destruction. They're struggling with a shortage of intravenous fluids directly linked the hurricane damage. 

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Last Friday, with dignitaries and civic hoopla, the new home of the ICA – the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami  – was inaugurated in the Design District. It was an exuberant kick-off to Miami’s Art Week.

But even then, the air was much quieter behind the new museum building, in its patio sculpture garden. In that more contemplative space, one immense sculpture stood out – not only because it’s striking but because it’s achingly somber. And because it’s very timely.

Irma Rivera Aviles and Ivan Martínez finally got power back in their home in Cataño last Friday afternoon.

"Christmas has arrived!" Rivera Aviles said ecstatically on Monday.

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, causing Rivera Aviles and Martínez to evacuate to a shelter for more than a week. When they returned to their home in a section of Cataño called El Pueblito, they found it badly damaged, as the storm had blown off part of the roof.

Angel Valentin / National Association of Hispanic Journalists

It's been two months since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. But more than half the U.S. island territory's residents still have no electricity. A fifth still don't have running water. And so far there's no reliable official death toll from the storm – even though it's becoming apparent that hundreds more died than first reported.

Puerto Rico is in the midst of the worst electricity outage in U.S. history. Most of the island remains without power more than two months after Hurricane Maria hit the island.

Some Puerto Ricans are saying that the current crisis should be a wake-up call that the island needs to move to a less centralized power system — and that solar power might be part of the solution. In other words, they believe Puerto Rico should follow the lead of many developing nations where solar power production is expanding rapidly.

Displaced Puerto Ricans Face Obstacles Getting Health Care

Nov 21, 2017

The federal government has granted people affected by the devastating hurricanes that wracked coastal states and Puerto Rico 15 extra days to sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

But Puerto Ricans who fled to the mainland after the destruction face problems well beyond timing.

Courtesy

Today on Sundial: Palm Beach County prepares for the arrival of the president this week. Sheriff Ric Bradshaw discusses with us the community's preparatory measures for the visit and what residents need to expect.

Trump arrives at the start of the holiday season and the eve of the largest shopping weekend of the year. The presidential visit will cause some traffic rearrangements and delays, as well as certain restrictions.

Sherriff Bradshaw will be in charge of overseeing the protection of the president, his family and staff.

Yerianne Roldán wants to be a graphic designer, or maybe a writer, or maybe both. Her good friend and classmate, Zuleyka Avila, has already made up her mind. She's going to be a pediatrician.

Those plans hit a bump in the road this fall, though, when Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, where both girls lived with their families. Forced to leave the island — much of which is still without power — they've both relocated to Orlando.

These days, Puerto Rico's monumental power restoration effort involves helicopters dropping 100-foot towers into the mountains and a "big dance" of crews, equipment and expertise from several agencies and companies. But progress has been slow and that dance has been a complicated and tedious one on the island, which is experiencing the largest outage in U.S. history.

And sometimes it's one light forward, two lights back.

Juan Luis Martinez / AP

Seven weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory is still struggling to restore power, water and other basic needs. Things only got more muddled on Friday with the sudden resignation of the island’s emergency management director.

It's a muggy early afternoon in Morovis, a mountain community about 40 miles from San Juan. Army Reserve soldiers led by Captain Angel Morales are hard at work handing out cases of water and ready-to-eat meals from a flatbed truck. Hundreds of people line up in the parking lot of the Jaime Collazo High School.

Tim Padgett / WLRN News

WLRN's Americas Editor Tim Padgett traveled to Puerto Rico one month after Hurricane Maria hit the island as a powerful category 4 storm, knocking down the electrical grid and destroying most of the infrastructure.

AP

WASHINGTON — The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says there was “a lot wrong” with a $300 million no-bid contract awarded to a tiny Montana company to aid Puerto Rico.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long tells Congress that FEMA officials only learned about the contract awarded to Whitefish Energy Holdings after it had been signed by the board of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

The head of the troubled utility said Sunday he would seek to cancel the contract, amid scrutiny from multiple federal and congressional investigations.

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