Puerto Rico crisis

José A. Iglesias / El Nuevo Herald

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo joins us for a conversation about Puerto Rico, DACA, and the Las Vegas mass shooting - and the need for "sensible gun policy."

Then we hear from Marine Col. Michael Samarov about recovery efforts in Dominica and the Leeward Islands.

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.

AP

UPDATE: President Trump visited Puerto Rico on Tuesday and possibly heightened rather than diffused tensions between him and the U.S. island territory. He quipped that Puerto Rico's hurricane disaster had "thrown our budget a little out of whack. We've spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico." Then he suggested the storm had not been a "real catastrophe" like Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He also lauded Puerto Rico for its low hurricane death toll compared to Katrina.

Miami Herald

On the very first edition of WLRN's new daily program Sundial, host Luis Hernandez talks to people around South Florida, including:

1. WLRN's America's reporter Tim Padgett tells Luis why half the U.S. diplomats in Cuba and their families are returning home. A number of U.S. State Department employees have experienced mysterious health problems since being stationed there.

Eight-year-old Yan Anthony Hernandez has deep dimples on each side of his smile. Somehow, he managed to sleep through the hurricane that roared over his home in Isabela, Puerto Rico. Unlike those living in wooden houses, his cement home held up.

But now, there's no electricity or cellphone service, and his school is closed. Instead of spending his free time on his Playstation or watching YouTube videos as he usually does, he's a little bored.

A laborer named Angel Ramos used to gather mangos and avocados that grew wild in the hills above the city of Cayey, in Puerto Rico's east. The woods were verdant, they smelled of fecundity — and made him feel part of creation.

Then the hurricane came.

"I climbed up to see what the mountain looks like. Oh, the sadness," Ramos says. "I see the uprooted trees. The naked limbs. It makes you want to cry when you to see it. How it's destroyed. It is torturous to look at."

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.

Updated at 10:10 p.m. ET

Millions of people in Puerto Rico need fuel, water, food and medicine. More than a week after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, major infrastructure is still down. Stores have trouble filling their shelves. Families are running low on the supplies they stockpiled before the storm, and across the island, many residents say they haven't seen any aid deliveries.

Meanwhile, at the port in San Juan, row after row of refrigerated shipping containers sit humming. They've been there for days, goods locked away inside.

Julio Alicea's 8-month-old granddaughter Aubrey came down with severe respiratory problems a day after Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico. "We are very lucky," Alicea says. "The hospital is open and we live nearby." Aubrey's cough turned intense, and when she started vomiting, Alicea says, he rushed her to the hospital at 4 a.m.

She didn't have any respiratory issues before the hurricane, Alicea says, sitting on a blue bench outside San Jorge Children's Hospital in San Juan. His 3-year-old granddaughter Angelica is keeping him company.

The Trump administration announced Thursday that it has temporarily waived a U.S. shipping restriction for Puerto Rico known as the Jones Act.

Under the law, only U.S.-flagged ships are allowed to move goods between any U.S. ports. Now foreign-flagged vessels also will be able to move shipments from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico and between ports there. The move is intended to boost the delivery of much-needed relief supplies after Hurricane Maria battered the U.S. territory last week.

The Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration thanked President Trump in a tweet:

How to help Puerto Rico after Maria

Sep 27, 2017
R
Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

It’s been a week since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, damaging homes and roads and destroying the island's power grid.

The official count puts the number of people killed at 16, but hundreds of people are still missing, and families are desperate to hear news of their whereabouts.

What’s the best way to help?  The United States Agency for International Development suggests donating money, instead of goods, after natural disasters.

Nearly a week after Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, students who can't return to school may need to continue their education on the mainland.

Some of the largest school districts in Florida, plus major cities like New York City and Chicago, are preparing for the possibility of an influx of students from the island.

In South Florida, Miami-Dade County public schools are already working to accommodate students who need to transfer from Puerto Rico.

Millions of people have no access to a power grid in Puerto Rico. Gas for cars and generators is hard to find. Cash is in short supply.

But there is another need that is even more pressing.

"I can live without power," says Wanda Ferrer. "But I can't live without water."

Ferrer was one of many people filling up at a government spigot in Toa Bajo, west of San Juan. Communities across Puerto Rico have lost running water as a result of the widespread power outages from Hurricane Maria, and it's not clear when it will be restored.

The Department of Homeland Security is considering a request by members of Congress to waive shipping restrictions to Puerto Rico, senior DHS officials said Wednesday.

The request is to waive restrictions under the Jones Act, which restricts shipping of goods between U.S. coasts to U.S.-flagged vessels (as opposed to foreign-flagged vessels).

Pages