WNPR

The Island Next Door

A team of Connecticut veterans and volunteers -- self-described as the Puerto Rican "water dogs" -- pumps water from a river in Salinas, Puerto Rico through a mobile filtration and purification system for residents there to drink.
Credit Ryan Caron King / WNPR

It’s been more than six months since Hurricane Maria tore through the island of Puerto Rico — taking out power lines, destroying homes, disrupting industries, raking the island’s forests, and displacing families.

Connecticut Public Radio’s reporters have covered the aftermath of the storm both from the mainland and from the island’s streets and mountains.  We’ve told stories about families still trying to provide the basics, college students reimagining their futures, schools adapting to hundreds of new students, and people just hoping to furnish their new, but empty, apartments.

Our reporters and editors decided to cover Hurricane Maria because — with nearly 300,000 state residents who claim island roots — it’s a local story. The island is an ocean away from our newsroom, but it might as well be one town over. Connecticut Public Radio is committed to telling these stories of people touched by the storm.

  

If you have loved ones in Puerto Rico and want to share your story, please email us at news@wnpr.org. You can also join a Facebook group WNPR in Puerto Rico After Maria. 

Coverage of Hurricane Maria from WNPR, the New England News Collaborative, and NPR:

At least 1,800 displaced students enrolled in Connecticut's public schools, including about 40 new schoolchildren at the Maria Sanchez School in Hartford.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

School districts in Connecticut that took in evacuees in the wake of Hurricane Maria will receive $10.6 million in federal aid from the United States Department of Education. The money is the long-awaited funding that will be used to help schools that took in students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Update: The Puerto Rican government acknowledged in a preliminary draft recovery plan submitted to Congress that it is likely more than 1,400 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Another study is out that places the death toll related to Hurricane Maria much higher than the estimate originally put out by the Puerto Rican government.

Jose Jimenez-Tirado

When Hurricane Maria barreled into Puerto Rico last year, it swept away homes, businesses, and jobs. Not only did it leave a catastrophic environmental mess, but Maria also blew away any remaining cover for the island’s dire fiscal crisis. That’s affecting the basics of life like power and education, but it goes further. Shifting financial priorities are also affecting the arts.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

You only have to ask Ramón Luis Morales once to know that the trauma of Hurricane Maria is still fresh.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

The state of Connecticut has set aside $1.5 million to meet the needs of Puerto Rican evacuees and the Connecticut municipalities that took them in for the current fiscal year.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Alberto Díaz lost most of what he had when Maria passed through. Nine months later, he is making opportunity out of disaster. His kitchen is a kitchen again. He used some wood he found to make a homemade tostonera -- a tool for smashing green plantains. Someone was throwing out a basketball court, so he took it, cleaned it, cut it, and now he’s got new wooden floors.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

The island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, is an isolated place known both for its remote beaches and the decades during which the U.S. Navy used those beaches for bombing runs and training exercises.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Hurricane Maria blew away the backyard retiree clubhouse Angel Luis Cotto built as a place to relax. He misses it, and, as a new storm threatened to pass just to the south of Puerto Rico Monday, Cotto said he’d prefer she stay far away.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Advocates for families relocated from Puerto Rico want the Federal Emergency Management Agency to come up with a longer-term solution for Transitional Shelter Assistance for Hurricane Maria evacuees.

Nine months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, there are an estimated 300 families still living in hotels in Massachusetts with FEMA and the state footing the bill.

Damaged houses in Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Governor Dannel Malloy signed a bill on Tuesday that allows school districts to work together to help teach students from Puerto Rico who were displaced by Hurricane Maria. 

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Sandra Quinones said she suffers from severe depression.

Lea esta historia en español. / Read this story in Spanish.

“Just like any human being, you immediately say ‘I’m not crazy,’” Quinones said through an interpreter. “Although you know that something is wrong, you’re crying all the time. You’re not yourself.”

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Sen. Richard Blumenthal wants the Trump administration to take responsibility for the death toll in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria, which a new study has now pegged at almost 5,000.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Commencement was two days away and Karina Lasalle Arroyo had hauled out nearly seven months’ worth of luggage from her time in Connecticut.

She stood in a dormitory parking lot and confirmed she was ready to go home.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued a new deadline for hurricane evacuees from Puerto Rico to sign up for help--June 18.

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