Executive Briefings

Inside Puerto Rico's Struggle to Recover a Month After Hurricane

It has been a month since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm and pummeled the island with sustained winds of 155 mph. The storm devastated Puerto Rico's water system, power grid, road network and cellphone infrastructure, and Maria is now responsible for at least 48 deaths.

Highways and bridges suffered heavy damage, cutting off some towns and hampering delivery of relief supplies such as food and water. Of Puerto Rico's 5,073 miles of road, 392 were open last week (including passage on an outer ring of the island), according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We have found areas where it was impossible to get to some of these communities,” said Alejandro De La Campa, FEMA’s federal coordinating officer in Puerto Rico. “We’re still doing air droppings in helicopters to bring food and water to some families.”

In the four weeks since the storm hit, the recovery has been uneven. By some measures, daily life rebounded quickly.

Gas stations, essential to providing fuel for generators, steadily came back online. At a station in San Juan earlier this month, Julio Velilla, a part-time Uber driver and Herbalife salesman, said lines had gone from “demonically” long to manageable. People sometimes waited without knowing if they would be able to get fuel once they reached the front of the line, he said.

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Highways and bridges suffered heavy damage, cutting off some towns and hampering delivery of relief supplies such as food and water. Of Puerto Rico's 5,073 miles of road, 392 were open last week (including passage on an outer ring of the island), according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We have found areas where it was impossible to get to some of these communities,” said Alejandro De La Campa, FEMA’s federal coordinating officer in Puerto Rico. “We’re still doing air droppings in helicopters to bring food and water to some families.”

In the four weeks since the storm hit, the recovery has been uneven. By some measures, daily life rebounded quickly.

Gas stations, essential to providing fuel for generators, steadily came back online. At a station in San Juan earlier this month, Julio Velilla, a part-time Uber driver and Herbalife salesman, said lines had gone from “demonically” long to manageable. People sometimes waited without knowing if they would be able to get fuel once they reached the front of the line, he said.

Read Full Article