HURRICANES

Amarilys De Leon, at right, and her daughter, Mayrangelique Rojas De Leon, in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

Among the thousands of people who left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit last year, many have come to New England. And for a variety of reasons, they won’t return to the island.   

Updated 12:46 p.m. ET

A spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday that the agency's plan to end its distribution of emergency food and water in Puerto Rico and turn that responsibility over to the Puerto Rican government would not take effect on Jan. 31.

In the days after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, residents of some of the hardest hit rural areas found themselves stranded — cut off from more populated areas by mudslides, crumbled roads and bridges, and toppled trees and power lines. In those early days, the only food and water many of these communities received arrived by helicopter, sent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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.

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