Puerto Rico’s Lasting Damage from Maria

Severe damage persists in Puerto Rico; certain areas of the island have limited access to the rest of the island due to flooding. Some are isolated by mountainous roads damaged by mudslides and similar occurrences. For example, the main route into one community is over a concrete slab that has to be carefully driven over, and is only safe if it is not raining. Areas still remain without running water or electricity.

A Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) spokesperson stated that FEMA was withdrawing from Puerto Rico at the end of January, leaving the continued aid programs in the hands of the Puerto Rican government and humanitarian agencies. An uproar was raised from many quarters, including Democrats, Republicans, and the Puerto Rican government. About a week later, FEMA announced that the wrong date had been stated and that they would continue working in Puerto Rico. No new shipments of supplies will be brought in, but the stockpiles already there will continue to be distributed.

Another effect of the hurricanes is that thousands of Puerto Ricans have left for the continental United States. They are leaving not only because their homes have been destroyed, but also because their struggling economy has shattered. The recovery for Puerto Rico is going to take years.

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