University Times

Puerto Rico Revisited

Months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, many are still struggling to survive.

Contractors+works+on+final+details+at+%22Las+Gladiolas%2C%22+a+government+housing+project+in+%0ASan+Juan%2C+Puerto+Rico.
Contractors works on final details at

Contractors works on final details at "Las Gladiolas," a government housing project in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Pedro Portal

Pedro Portal

Contractors works on final details at "Las Gladiolas," a government housing project in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Yamani Wallace, Contributor

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Seven months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans are still struggling to recover. A total of 64 deaths have been reported since the hurricane debilitated families and communities throughout the island. Many are still suffering from electrical outages and lack of basic human resources such as food and water. 

Governor Ricardo Rossello said that Maria completely destroyed 87,094 homes and harshly damaged 385,703 homes. Furthermore, according to National Public Radio (NPR), more than 3,500 Puerto Ricans are still living in hotels on the island and across the United States with temporary housing vouchers provided by FEMA. Of the one million applications for money to help disaster victims fix their homes, FEMA approved less than 40 percent. FEMA requires homeowners to show proof that they own their homes in order to qualify for assistance, which is reflected in the low approval rate of financial support.

“It’s stressful,” said Yalitza Rodriguez, a 35-year-old from the southern Puerto Rico town of Yauco who has been staying at a hotel in New York. “If we don’t get an extension we will have nowhere to live.”

Puerto Rican families of Cal State LA students are among those struggling to recover. 

“It’s hard to see my family struggle while I’m here,” said freshman volleyball player Karla Santos. “My family is staying all over the place.” 

“It’s definitely hard to be away from my family during such a hard time like the hurricane,” said Alessandro Negron, Puerto Rican native and freshman volleyball player. “My family’s houses are ruined and things will never be the same. I just try and stay positive so my happiness can help them. “

Governor Rossello requested a program extension for the program from Jan. 13 to March 20, but all cases are reviewed for eligibility every 30 days and the payments could end for some individuals soon. 

“I feel like I am on the streets because I have no clothes and nowhere to go,” said Leslie Rivera, a resident of Caguas who has been temporarily living in houses in Tampa, FL. since December with her three children. “I have nothing for my kids.”

Months after Maria debilitated the island, Puerto Rico is still waiting for power, FEMA vouchers, government assistance and to get back in touch with friends and family.

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Puerto Rico Revisited