Maria-hit Puerto Rico passes one-year mark

Erika Holt
September 22, 2018

FILE - A man takes one of his 10 a day asthma treatments to help him breathe, inside his home still covered with a tarp a year after Hurricane Maria, in Naranjito, Puerto Rico, Sept. 9, 2018.

Rosello complained that bureaucratic dealings with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) "have been excessive", and said the response by the Army Corps of Engineers - which sent personnel to the island days after the hurricane struck to re-establish electrical power - "was insufficient" and "lacked urgency".

Tiffany Cross moderated the Capitol Hill panel on the government's response a year ago to Hurricane Maria, saying it was the biggest Capitol Hill panel of experts to meet on the hurricane since it hit.

Time has not healed wounds or cleared minds of the devastation brought on by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico a year ago. "Puerto Rico should be better than this".

Last week, President Donald Trump took to his Twitter account to insult the people of Puerto Rico, falsely claiming that the reported death toll from 2017's Hurricane Maria, totaled at nearly 3,000 lost lives, was a false statistic, allegedly inflated "by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible".

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. And, that was not easy", she said. Both storms reached Category 5 levels of intensity at different points in their development. Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on the island as it devastated homes and infrastructure, and caused almost 3,000 deaths.

Make The Road Pennsylvania organized the vigil to recognize Hurricane Maria's landfall on the US territory as well as to decry what many in attendance said was an unacceptable response by the USA government.

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Arizona State University Professor Maria Cruz-Torres said her elderly parents are still struggling to fix their house in Puerto Rico after it was damaged in Hurricane Maria a year ago.

"To see the island of enchantment was a deep and painful experience", he 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. "We stand with Puerto Rico, and we are helping them to rebuild stronger and better than ever before", it said.

More than 2,000 CUNY students applied for the chance to help, and only 200 were selected to go to the island with SUNY students and volunteers.

After more than a quarter-century of teaching, in year 26, she has found her dream job in Lee County.

Cruz-Torres added those in the coastal areas, fishermen in particular, were among the hardest hit because of the gear and boats they lost.

Governor Rossello ordered flags be lowered to half-staff across the territory and spoke about the resilience of Puerto Ricans as they push-on and rebuild.

Engineer Jose Ortiz, the new director of Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority, said on Thursday about 20 percent of the repairs that were made to the power grid needed to be redone because they were rushed and temporary.

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