NY To Send More College Students To Help Puerto Rico Recover

Saul Bowman
September 23, 2018

"Hurricane Maria took with it many lives that we will not overlook and that we still remember with a great weight of pain", Governor Ricardo Rossello said Thursday ahead of a planned memorial event: "One Year After Maria" with religious leaders and government officials.

In August, researchers at George Washington University published a report estimating almost 2,975 people died between September 2017 and February 2018 as a result of the storm.

Jose Ortiz, director of Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority, told reporters that 20 percent of repairs made to the power grid need to be redone.

Tarps still covered many homes that have yet to be rebuilt in the town of 37,000, even as the nostalgic strains of "Amanecer Borincano" - "Puerto Rican Dawn" - resonated at the spot where Maria first unleashed its fury.

Hurricane Maria hit the island just two weeks after another powerful storm, Hurricane Irma, passed Puerto Rico as it swept through the Caribbean.

In a series of personal accounts of the storm and its aftermath from island residents, compiled by the Times, Puerto Ricans repeatedly reported second-class treatment, illustrating that huge gap in support for natural disasters on the mainland like Harvey and last week's Hurricane Florence, and the response to Maria offshore. "We stand with Puerto Rico, and we are helping them to rebuild stronger and better than ever before", it said. Since the storm, that has shot up to 98 percent, she said. Both storms reached Category 5 levels of intensity at different points in their development.

"FEMA leadership acknowledged that the agency could have better anticipated that the severity of hurricanes Irma and Maria would cause long-term, significant damage to the territories' infrastructure", the report said. But the "real environmental crisis" the island faces is in the future, he said, as climate change is likely to produce hurricanes that will only increase in intensity.

In San Juan, the crowd of worshippers gathered at the 230-year-old San Cristobal fort sang and prayed along with pastors and musicians on stage, with music echoing through the fort's heavy walls as the sun slowly sank into the sea behind them.

"For a year he has tried to spin it", she added. Despite resentment toward the government response, Cruz-Torres said those on the island have shown great resilience in the face of adversity.

HUD's allocation will mostly be used to fix homes; help residents obtain title deeds needed to qualify for federal aid; and to relocate at-risk communities, the governor said.

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