Puerto Rico

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.


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.

Man and woman standing together
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

Saturday may have been rainy, but that didn’t stop a small private plane from getting eight very sick people out of Puerto Rico and into Ft. Lauderdale to receive the indispensable medical treatment they can't receive on the island at the moment. 

After Hurricane Maria devastated the island, South Florida resident and Puerto Rican native Debbie Sosa started making calls to help those she didn’t think could wait until mid-December, when the government in Puerto Rico estimates power will be restored. 


Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, 18-year-old Ledishla Acevedo booked a flight to Miami in hopes of continuing her college education in Florida.

When she arrived at her cousin’s house here, she turned on the lights and started to cry.

Then she took a hot shower and cried some more.

Updated at 4:52 p.m. Eastern

On Sunday the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority cancelled the highly disputed $300 million contract awarded to Whitefish Energy, a tiny American company tasked with restoring power to the still storm-ravaged island. PREPA spokesperson Carlos Monroig confirmed the news to NPR.

The announcement came hours after Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló demanded the contract's cancellation, amid ongoing local and federal audits.


Today in Sundial: Puerto Ricans living on the island may be without power for months. Some parts of the island could be living without basic services for more than a year. WLRN's Tim Padgett was there recently, and he says the best way to describe what's happening in Puerto Rico is basic paralysis. 

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org


Driving through Puerto Rico last week, my attention was often focused on the hurricane destruction all around me. And that was really stupid – because if you’re not entirely focused on the road in Puerto Rico, you’ll hit one of the island’s countless, craterous and calamitous potholes.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

TOA BAJA – Heavy rains fell last week in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, a town west of San Juan. The sound of the downpour took 68-year-old Carmen Rivera back to September 20 – the day Hurricane Maria roared into Puerto Rico and destroyed her home.

One month since Maria hit Puerto Rico, the wait for Irma's food benefits in South Florida and Florida public schools vs. the state over charter schools all on this week's 'special pledge edition' of The Florida Roundup with host Tom Hudson. 


Just seven months ago, Puerto Rican chef Jose Sanchez opened the restaurant of his dreams: a place where you could feel like you were in Italy one day, and like you were in France the next.

He served up fusion cuisine and called it Pera Maraya. There was deconstructed ratatouille, caprese salad with octopus. The restaurant in Carolina, east of San Juan, was getting rave reviews: five stars on Yelp, Trip Advisor and Facebook. He spent nearly a decade saving up to open this restaurant, and was overjoyed at how quickly it found success.

Today in Sundial: New World Symphony, in collaboration with MIT Media Lab, and with support from the John S and James L Knight Foundation, is putting together a new show titled Project 305. We spoke with composer Ted Hearne and filmmaker Jonathan David Kane about  the unique sounds and videos they collected from everyday folks to put this symphony together. By the way, one of those sounds includes a dog chasing peacocks.

The Coliseo is the biggest concert hall in San Juan, Puerto Rico. But since Hurricane Maria devastated the island a month ago, it's become the center of a massive effort to feed tens of thousands left hungry by the storm — an effort led by celebrity chef José Andrés.

"We're about to reach the million and a half [meals] served — a vast majority of them hot meals," says Andrés, who is known for his upscale restaurants in Washington, D.C., and for canceling his plans to open one in Donald Trump's D.C. hotel.