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Puerto Rico

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

The United States Senate has passed legislation that would provide Puerto Rico with more disaster relief money. But its ultimate passage has been delayed.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Federal legislators are fighting over additional disaster aid for Puerto Rico.

There are few things Democrats and Republicans in Congress usually agree on, but one of them is rushing federal money to victims of natural disasters.

That sentiment crumbled this week when the Senate failed to advance two separate disaster funding bills. Both included bipartisan funding to help relieve damage across the country from flooding, wildfires, tornadoes and hurricanes. But a fight over assistance for Puerto Rico has derailed getting a deal on the entire package.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut lawmakers want Congress to send more disaster relief dollars to Puerto Rico.

Ryan Lindsay / Connecticut Public Radio

A new education bill seeks to add African-American studies to the social studies curriculum in Connecticut public schools. High school students testifying before the legislature this week said loud and clear that Black history is more than just Rosa Parks, slavery and civil rights.

César Díaz felt lucky that only a couple of leaks had sprung in his ceiling, even though Hurricane Maria tore the zinc panels off much of his roof. His real troubles began about a year after the storm, when a crew hired by Puerto Rico's housing department showed up to make the repairs.

"They weren't very professional," Díaz said. "They didn't wear gloves, and they asked if I had an extra piece of wood."

Within days, there were new leaks. Not only in the living room but in the bedroom, over his daughter's crib.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

A new federal report says Connecticut experienced one of the largest year-to-year percentage increases in homelessness. But state officials and advocates say Hurricane Maria had a major impact on those numbers.

Jason D. Neely

It began as a six-month assignment covering the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. But NPR reporter Adrian Florido has been on the ground in Puerto Rico for more than a year now.

This hour, we check in with Florido. What changes has he observed since arriving on the island?

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Researchers in Puerto Rico say hurricanes Irma and María made long-lasting and ongoing impacts to forest and coastal ecosystems.

Officials in Puerto Rico have been saying for months that they are prepared should another hurricane strike their island, even one as big as Hurricane Maria, which made landfall with devastating fury last fall.

But on Tuesday afternoon, an attorney for Puerto Rico's government admitted in a San Juan courtroom that, in fact, the island's emergency management agency does not yet have a document outlining a hurricane-specific response plan.

When he gets a text message from Alex Cora, Joseamid Rodriguez is all goosebumps. He pulls out his phone to show a recent text exchange with the Red Sox manager, in which Rodriguez congratulates Cora for clinching a spot in the playoffs, then pulls up his arm to prove he gets goosebumps.

“He’s a person who always answers our texts, and it makes you feel so proud,” he says. “When a friend writes who now has such a high position as manager of the Red Sox — my hairs are standing right now!”

A middle-aged woman sat over a pail of water, a blue umbrella shielding her from the scorching sun. Surrounded by a wreckage of branches and twisted metal sheets, Angelina Arroyo Rivera salvaged what remained of her belongings — some silverware and some plastic containers, a blue tarp, a red purse, a white blouse.

The Federico Mathew Baez in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico closed over a year ago.  Now, community members are working to turn it into a community center.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

This used to be Gamaliel Laboy Andino’s school. But he doesn’t go here anymore. No one does -- not since the government closed it more than a year ago. It saddened him, he said, because there are students who now have to go to school far away.

“It makes me sad, because there are students who don’t have anywhere to go,” he said.

In the outskirts of San Juan, far from the gleaming towers downtown, there’s a makeshift car wash on the side of the road. Young men spray down a beaming black Acura — a starkly clean machine in a neighborhood struggling to return to normality a year after Hurricane Maria.

This car wash didn’t exist before the storm. It’s one of many realities people on the island describe as “before Maria” or “after Maria.”

Este reporte tambien está disponible en español.

Candido Reyes and Luz María Muñiz found love late in life — she in her 50s, he in his 60s — but at least they had found what some people never find. He told her he loved her more than God, and he believed it to the point that he apologized for it in his prayers.

As Hurricane Maria bore down on Puerto Rico, Jason Ortiz, president of the Connecticut Puerto Rican Agenda was already working on relief efforts.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Vigils will be held Thursday in Hartford and Bridgeport to mark one year since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Rallies are scheduled Thursday in Bridgeport and Hartford to commemorate the one year mark since Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico. But, the Hartford event is facing a bit of an administrative obstacle.

NASA

The country watched Hurricane Florence pummel communities across the Carolinas this week, leaving flooding, destruction, and death in its path.

This hour we ask New York Times climate reporter Kendra Pierre-Louis--is climate change causing these devastating storms to become more common?

Matthew / Flickr Creative Commons

Over 2,000 students have come to Connecticut from Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. Many of them have settled in Connecticut's biggest cities, and their arrival has highlighted the need for more teachers who speak Spanish and who are certified to teach English language learners, or ELLs.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

The Puerto Rican government has acknowledged that nearly 3,000 people died after Hurricane Maria hit the island last year. At first, it said that only 64 people perished as a result of the storm.

It's not easy packing your bags and saying goodbye to your family after a Category 5 hurricane has wiped out what you call home, leaving so many places — tied so closely with childhood memories and routine — bare and unusable.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Last fall, 2,281 new students poured into Connecticut from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Sixty-five percent of them went to five of the state's largest cities -- the ones that were already dealing with fiscal crises.

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.

Blue tarps still dot rooftops, homes lack electricity needed to refrigerate medicines, and clinics chip away at debts incurred from running generators. Yet despite these residual effects from last year's devastating hurricanes, Puerto Rico is moving ahead with major cuts to its health care safety net that will affect more than a million of its poorest residents.

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.

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