HURRICANE SEASON

A scene from Puerto Rico this week. "President Trump seems to be using the number of fatalities to determine the quality of the disaster response," Sen. Elizabeth Warren said.
Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Several New England U.S. Senators are among those urging federal officials to make sure the hurricane death toll in Puerto Rico is accurate.

Homes lay in ruin as seen from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations, Black Hawk during a flyover of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria September 23, 2017.
Kris Grogan / U.S. Customs and Border Protection

As we learn more about the devastations of the last three hurricanes, some of us are talking about the relationship of climate change and extreme weather events.

Government and nonprofit leaders in Holyoke, Mass., gathered to prepare for the expected arrival of people from Puerto Rico.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

Holyoke was once a robust industrial city, like others along major U.S. rivers in the 19th and 20th centuries. Paper manufacturing was king here, and like other industrial cities Holyoke attracted waves of Irish, French Canadian, German, Polish and Italians immigrants to work in the mills.

Dr. Robert Fuller visited five primary clinics in Puerto Rico Wednesday -- gong clockwise around the island from San Juan to Arroyo and then north to Caguas.  

One week after Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico, the U.S. Defense Department said 80 percent of the island’s electricity lines are damaged and nearly half its residents are without drinking water.

The Trump administration announced Thursday that it has temporarily waived a U.S. shipping restriction for Puerto Rico known as the Jones Act.

Under the law, only U.S.-flagged ships are allowed to move goods between any U.S. ports. Now foreign-flagged vessels also will be able to move shipments from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico and between ports there. The move is intended to boost the delivery of much-needed relief supplies after Hurricane Maria battered the U.S. territory last week.

The Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration thanked President Trump in a tweet:

As Puerto Rico begins a slow recovery from Hurricane Maria's destruction, many Puerto Ricans in Connecticut are struggling to find ways to help  family members in need of food and water.

Seventy-eight-year-old Alonso Mercado and his wife emerged from the gates at Logan Airport on Wednesday evening to see their children and grandchildren. They came from Puerto Rico to take refuge with family in the United States.

Being in the Boston, Mercado says, is like paradise.

“Like in heaven,” he says.

Mercado says his home is ruined, and he plans to stay on the mainland until Puerto Rico returns to normal.

“We didn’t have no light and no water,” Mercado says. “No electricity in the house, not in the house, in the whole Puerto Rico.”

Much-needed supplies are either in Puerto Rico or on the way, officials say, but the island's governor acknowledges that they can't deliver fuel and other material quickly enough. Frustrated residents face long lines for fuel, as millions of people have gone nearly a week without power.

"We need resources and security. We need a quicker logistical deployment," Gov. Ricardo Rossello told NPR's Mary Louise Kelly on Tuesday. "You know, the gas and fuel issue is not a matter of how much do we have — it's a matter of how we can distribute it."

In a tiny sliver of shade, on a hill next to Puerto Rico's Route 65, Kiara Rodriguez de Jesus waves a sparkly pink hand fan to keep cool.

"I trust in God," she says. "Please, come the gas."

Along with her family, parked in a Volvo SUV, she has been in line for gasoline since 3 a.m., she says. Now it's after 1:30 p.m. And like everyone else at this gas station, she has no idea how much longer she'll be waiting.

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