Puerto Rico

Associated Press

GUAYAMA, PUERTO RICO —  Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló visited President Trump at the White House on Thursday to discuss the U.S. island territory’s hurricane catastrophe. The President gave himself a perfect score on Puerto Rico relief. Puerto Ricans on the island … beg to differ.

A full month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, 80 percent of its 3.4 million people still have no power. And relief supplies are only now starting to move more regularly into the island’s demolished interior. Still, President Trump gave his performance there a perfect 10.

The first wave of university students displaced by Hurricane Maria has arrived to study in the mainland US, taking advantage of tuition discounts offered to Puerto Rican students whose home institutions remain shuttered.

“Coming here was a big relief,” says Rosamari Palerm, 23. She was the first student from Puerto Rico to arrive at St. Thomas University, a private Catholic school in Miami Gardens, Florida with over 5,000 students.

Miami Herald

Today in Sundial: Miami Beach voters will be picking a new mayor in November. They'll also have to vote on a referendum that could change how business operates on part of Ocean Drive. We'll talk about the ballot and the options voters will have. We also dig into the controversies that have led to the end of Councilman Michael Grieco's political career.

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 Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN – Like many in Congress, Florida Senator Bill Nelson had been frustrated by not being able to see Puerto Rico’s hurricane destruction first hand. So Sunday he took a commercial flight to the U.S. island territory – and voiced some criticism of U.S. relief efforts.

It's not exactly how Deilanis Santana planned to spend her 13th birthday: waking up before dawn, packing up her life – and heading to Connecticut to live with her grandma.

But here she is at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, three weeks after Hurricane Maria, waiting anxiously like many other Puerto Ricans for flights to destinations like Miami, Philadelphia, and other cities. The gates are crowded with children — Deilanis among them — leaving their homes, and sometimes their families, to live in the U.S. mainland and go to school.

President Trump posted a series of early morning tweets on Thursday that put the disaster spotlight back on Puerto Rico.

"We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders" in Puerto Rico "forever," President Trump said Thursday, hinting at a possible limit on federal aid to the island territory where 3.4 million Americans have struggled to recover from two destructive hurricanes.

Here are the president's comments on the issue, compressed from three consecutive tweets:

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.

Every Sunday since Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, Ada Reyes and her four children have walked half an hour to church. Down a winding road, dodging fallen trees and debris, they walk past concrete houses still bearing flood marks, and finally cross the Vivi — a small river in Utuado, a city in the central mountain region.

Puerto Ricans say it's taller than the Statue of Liberty and the largest homage to Christopher Columbus in the world. It's a towering 350-foot-tall statue of the explorer and it's perched on the island's waterfront. While the statue survived Hurricane Maria which hit Puerto Rico more than two weeks ago, the town it resides in wasn't as lucky.

It's tough to do justice to the huge sculpture that towers over Arecibo, a beach town on Puerto Rico's northern coast some 50 miles from the capital San Juan.

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.

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: