Six Months After Maria, Puerto Rico Still Waits

Six months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, citizens on the island are still trying to recover, while an estimated 135,000 Puerto Ricans have decided to move to the mainland. Puerto Rico’s struggling economy has been challenged by a storm of historic proportions and by an unprecedented response by the U.S. federal government, which considered its job was done before it began. DNC Chair Tom Perez released the following statement:


“Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico continue to be treated like second-class citizens. The Trump administration’s disastrous response in the storm’s aftermath has cost lives and left thousands of citizens displaced and desperate for help.


“Trump and Republicans may have forgotten these Americans, but Democrats have not. I personally witnessed Hurricane Maria’s destruction and FEMA’s limited response when I visited the island last October. Today, six months after the storm, business owners are still recovering from their losses and waiting to be paid by insurance companies. People with serious health problems are still struggling to get adequate care. Families are still dealing with water damage and experiencing frequent power outages. And the majority of the residents on the island are still rebuilding after the lives they once knew were washed away by one of the worst hurricanes in American history.


“Our fellow Americans deserve better. The federal government needs to work tirelessly to help Puerto Rico rebuild its economy and fully recover from this tragedy. It’s long past time for Donald Trump and Republicans to join Democrats to give those affected by this disaster the attention and resources they deserve.”


See it for yourself:


Mother Jones: Six Months After Maria, the Town Where It Made Landfall Feels Like It’s Been Forgotten


“‘Life after Maria has been really sad,’ he says, sitting in the front room of his small house yards from the beach in the Playa el Negro section of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. The house, which he shares with his wife Irma, was flooded during the storm after it made landfall very near their neighborhood with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour. ‘The little bit that we had was taken back.’”


CNN: 'We are the forgotten people': It's been almost six months since Hurricane Maria, and Puerto Ricans are still dying


“It's been nearly six months since Hurricane Maria. Its howling winds, which topped 150 mph, long have dissipated. The storm that battered Puerto Rico on September 20 before hooking northward into the Atlantic is a memory. Yet, in this US commonwealth, people are still dying in Maria's wake. That's especially true of those who lack basic services like electricity.”


The Wall Street Journal: For Puerto Rico, the Return to Business as Usual Is Slow


“Though economic activity in Puerto Rico has picked up in recent months, businesses large and small are struggling. Electricity woes continue to plague the island, where 91% of power generation has been restored but the grid is prone to sudden outages. Insurance money has arrived slowly, with $1.7 billion paid in residential and business claims as of Jan. 31—about 40% of the expected total, according to the island’s Office of the Commissioner of Insurance.”


AP: Only a fraction of the $23 billion appropriated for storm relief has actually been spent in Puerto Rico


“As the six-month anniversary of the Category 4 storm approaches, only a fraction of the $23 billion in congressionally approved funds has actually been spent in Puerto Rico. In February, a $4.7 billion loan approved last year for Texas, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico was reduced by the U.S. Treasury Department to $2 billion for Puerto Rico, none of which has been disbursed. And programs funded with FEMA money, like generators for rural wells, have yet to reach thousands of Puerto Ricans like those in Barrio Mana, American citizens living in Third World conditions six months after a natural disaster.”


Yahoo News: Puerto Rico, still reeling from Hurricane Maria, faces major challenges


“The island’s 3.4 million residents were plunged into darkness as Maria made landfall. As of March 17, more than 100,000 customers remained without power in Puerto Rico -– just over 7 percent of the number of customers in Puerto Rico that are able to receive electrical power.”


Forbes: How One Small Town In Puerto Rico Holds On To Hope Six Months After Hurricane Maria


“It took months and months to haul the debris from people’s yards. Big piles of twisted metal roofing and broken tree limbs still dot the street sides. Electricity is only partially restored and still unreliable; some, even in Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, have power by generator only. Residents estimate about 16-20% of homes remain disconnected.”


Refinery29: Life, Interrupted: The Invisible Scars Hurricane Maria Has Left On The Women Of Puerto Rico


“Anyone who lives in Puerto Rico can tell you that life is divided in two chapters — before and after Maria. The Category 5 storm ravaged the U.S. territory on September 20 and the aftermath was worse than anyone imagined: months during which hundreds of thousands were without water or electricity, food shortages, a lack of medical resources, and an unofficial death toll of more than 1,000 people.”