NATURAL DISASTER

Nelson Robles, 56, is the maintenance man at Primera Iglesia Bautista Emanuel church in downtown Bridgeport. He’s also a percussionist during mass. Every morning, he walks to the corner of his church – just off the altar to the right – and prays. He said that while he’s down on his knees looking for guidance, he feels God.

Blanca Ortiz-Torres was sitting in a Puerto Rican oasis. She was at a working bakery in the tiny mountain town of Maricao that had both a generator and a cistern and, as a result, could serve cold drinks, hot coffee, fresh pastries, and pizza.

It’s been more than a month since Hurricane Maria, but residents of Puerto Rico are still coping with the devastation. Several community groups — many of them nonprofits with missions they have had to suspend in the wake of Maria — are working to provide relief across the island:

Proyecto Enlace

Carmen Osorio stands on the second floor of her two-story home, sun beating down through the rafters where a roof once kept out the elements.

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, and a month later, clean water continues to be hard to come by for some residents -- particularly those in more rural parts of the island.

Wildfires in York County, Maine, October 1947.
Brick Store Museum

For some in New England, the deadly fires in California are a reminder of when fires overtook much of Maine around this time of year, 70 years ago. Wildfires in 1947 simultaneously burned over hundreds of miles for ten days, wiping out towns, and forever changing the landscape. 

Authorities are increasingly optimistic that they have turned the tide in their week-long battle against the deadliest wildfires in California's history.

Lighter winds were helping firefighters both in the air and on the ground to contain the majority of the biggest fires, and rain forecast for later in the week would further boost their efforts, NPR's David Schaper reports from Santa Rosa.

The city of Bridgeport, Connecticut, is getting ready for an influx of Puerto Ricans fleeing the devastation left by Hurricane Maria.  

Scott Wilderman, the CEO of Career Resources, which operates the American Jobs Center for the city, met with other city officials and community leaders on Friday to develop a transition center, where incoming families can get services. 

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, many people around Connecticut have been collecting supplies to help the relief effort in Puerto Rico. But it’s difficult to get those supplies to where they need to be, particularly to the more remote areas of the territory.

Luis Cruz and Esther Gomez had always considered moving to Florida from Puerto Rico. The weather and proximity made it an ideal destination; plus, the couple had family scattered across the state. They just didn't know when they'd take the big step.

Then Hurricane Maria hit. Three weeks after the storm wiped out the island's power grid, less than 20 percent of people have electricity and 64 percent have drinking water.

The death toll from a series of blazes in Northern California has reached at least 31 people — making it the deadliest week for wildfires in the state's history. Officials are warning that more deaths are likely.

"We're moving into a recovery phase," Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said. "That is the reality part of it."

Speaking late Thursday, Giordano said that two more bodies had been recovered as search teams moved into areas where people had been reported missing in the wake of the fires.

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