Puerto Rico

In the days after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, residents of some of the hardest hit rural areas found themselves stranded — cut off from more populated areas by mudslides, crumbled roads and bridges, and toppled trees and power lines. In those early days, the only food and water many of these communities received arrived by helicopter, sent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló says he is moving to sell off the U.S. territory's public power company, as nearly a third of the island's electric customers remain without power four months after Hurricane Maria struck the island on Sept. 20.

Rosselló said Monday that it might take 18 months to privatize the insolvent Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, the largest U.S. public utility as measured by the number of customers — 3.3 million.

WMFE

FEMA is extending housing assistance for Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria.

The extension lasts through March 20. Puerto Rico’s government asked for the extension of the Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program as more than a third of the island remains without power.

But the Rev. Jose Nieves of the First United Methodist Church of Kissimmee says many families and hotels where they are staying have not yet gotten the word.

Wilson Sayre / WLRN

More than three months after Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico, there are thousands on the island still without power and basic necessities and nearly 300,000 people have come to Florida seeking refuge.

One hundred days ago, powerful Category 4 Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico leaving the island severely crippled and the more than 3 million U.S. citizens desperate for help.

Now, Puerto Ricans on the island and U.S. mainland are feeling angry and the lack of progress and they are organizing to demand help for Puerto Rico.

Though life has improved for some Puerto Ricans on the island more than three months since Maria hit, the Caribbean island is still in recovery mode.

On a normal night, dozens of tourists would be gaping at the glowing sea life on Mosquito Bay, a cove named after a legendary pirate ship in Vieques, Puerto Rico. But on a night in mid-December, it's empty. The loudest sounds are the frogs croaking in the mangroves.

U.S. Congressmen From Florida To Visit Puerto Rico

Dec 26, 2017
Government of Puerto Rico

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Darren Soto are traveling to Puerto Rico Wednesday to get a firsthand look at on-going recovery from the Sept. 20 hit by deadly and powerful Hurricane Maria.

According to Nelson's office, the senator will return to Florida Wednesday night after meeting separately with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello and the media. Nelson is also slated to meet with members of the Puerto Rican community in the Osceola County Commission Chamber in Kissimmee on Thursday.

Miami Herald

About 4,700 people died in Puerto Rico in September and October of 2016. A year later, 5,800 people died over that same two-month stretch. Could the difference of 1,100 deaths been caused by Hurricane Maria?

According to the island’s official count, the storm killed 62 people. The Center for Investigative Journalism looked at government data on deaths, trying to get a handle on Maria’s death toll on the island.

For thousands of Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria, this will be a difficult Christmas.

Miosotis Castro, her husband Francisco Alvarado and their three children lost their home when the storm hit in September. Eventually they made their way to Providence, Rhode Island, where they've been living with relatives for the last month.

It's been a hard transition, but Castro says she's trying to focus on what they do have as they prepare for the holidays.

"We cook," Castro says, sitting in her in-laws living room. "We have a Christmas tree. We have a safe home."

Florida’s U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is slamming the Republican tax bill. Both houses of Congress passed the measure Wednesday on largely party line votes. Nelson says the package benefits corporations more than working people. 

Nearly three months after Hurricane Maria, parts of Puerto Rico are showing clear signs of recovery. But in Vieques, a remote island with nearly 9,000 residents eight miles off the main island's coast, recovery is a long way off. There, some live in dingy conditions as they wait for help to rebuild, while others gather what they can to do it themselves.

Gregorio Velazquez Rivera, an 81-year-old who is blind, has left his destroyed home — which is totally unlivable — virtually untouched in the months since the hurricane.

An international human rights group, Refugees International, has issued a scathing report on the U.S. response in Puerto Rico to Hurricane Maria. The group says "poor coordination and logistics on the ground" by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Puerto Rican government "seriously undermined the effectiveness of the aid delivery process."

Tim Padgett / WLRN

For weeks, Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and his associates tried to play the Washington game, meeting with politicians and lobbyists across Capitol Hill to argue against provisions in the tax overhaul bill that treat the U.S. territory like a foreign country.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

Nearly 10,000 students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have enrolled in Florida’s public schools since hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the Caribbean.

Education leaders haven’t yet quantified the financial impact of absorbing them into schools. But it’ll likely take a combination of funding from the state and federal governments to cover the costs.

While visiting a Coconut Grove elementary school late last month, Gov. Rick Scott said the state has reserves that could be used to help.

Adopta un Bolsillo / Twitter

This Friday, Dec. 15, is the day Puerto Rico’s governor pledged to have all the island’s electric power restored. That’s not going to happen – but some Puerto Ricans have gotten power back after their long, long night in the dark.

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