Puerto Rico marks 1 year since Maria with choirs, protests

22 September, 2018, 03:26 | Author: Carlos George
  • An abandoned house in Barrio Bravos De Boston in Cantera San Juan left by its owners due to the prolonged wait to restore electricity in the area after Hurricane Maria. The house was then used by drug users for a time before local residents drove them

"Seeing where I grew up not looking the same and thinking if everyone was okay when I couldn't know if they were or they weren't", Hernandez said.

An additional $18.5 billion for the island was approved by the federal agency in March, but the process to disburse this allocation has yet to finish.

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.

Earlier Thursday, the White House sent a fact sheet to reporters touting the administration's "historic recovery effort" and "significant progress" over the year since Maria's landfall.

After a commissioned study, the government of the USA island attributed an estimated 2,975 deaths to the Category 4 storm, which also caused an estimated $100 billion in damage, including destroying 75 percent of the island's transmission lines.

Maria devastated the US commonwealth, and Rossello has said the island's government initially underestimated the death toll, putting it at 64. The university study accounted for Puerto Ricans who succumbed to the stifling heat and other aftereffects of the storm and had not been previously counted in official figures. "Before, during, and after the two massive hurricanes, the President directed the entire Administration to provide unprecedented support to Puerto Rico". Protests were planned in San Juan and elsewhere, as well as a funeral procession.

The vigil also drew attention to the almost 3,000 people estimated to have died as a result of the storm. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott disagreed on the effectiveness of the federal response.

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He said the "real issue" is rebuilding and giving Puerto Rico a more resilient infrastructure, steps that are "a lot more productive than arguing about the number" of dead.

In this September 8, 2018 photo, Alma Morales Rosario poses for a portrait between the beams of her home being rebuilt after it was destroyed by Hurricane Maria one year ago in the San Lorenzo neighborhood of Morovis, Puerto Rico.

For Carson, the disbursement of HUD funds "paves the way for a speedy, long-term recovery", but he warned that the "path forward is challenging, and will be measured not in months, but rather in years".

Even before the Category-4 storm hit, Puerto Rico was financially bankrupt with $120 billion in debt and pension liabilities it can not pay. She also described, in detail, the troubles that have plagued the island territory since the storm began a year ago.

"We're installing permanent roofs on over 400 homes here on the island". The San Juan mayor has noted that the island has seen only a fraction of nearly $50 billion in recovery funds Congress approved for Puerto Rico, including $20 billion in HUD funds.

"We're still waiting for help", he said. "Our intention there is that we want to restore these churches to be places of hope in the community".

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