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Puerto Rico in ‘fragile state’ six months after the Hurricane Maria

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Hurricane Maria, 6 months later

Crews work to restore Puerto Rico’s electricity grid six months after the Hurricane Maria. Bryan Llenas reports.

Six months after the Hurricane Maria made arrive in Puerto Rico, about 100,000 Americans on the island are still without power, thousands of blue tarps cover damaged roofs on houses, and over 130,000 Puerto Ricans have moved on.

“We are at a fragile stability now,” Michael Byrne, Puerto Rico federal coordinating officer for Federal Emergency Management Agency, told Fox News. “I’m sorry to say this but we are still providing food and water for a few quarters…we still have a lot of work to do as we move into the longer-term recovery.”

On Monday alone, FEMA provided 94,000 litres of water and 50,000 meals. The federal aid is almost out of phase one, the power restoration and aid, and try to progress in phase two, housing reconstruction and long-term construction. While 93 percent of the island is not more in the dark, the crews are still working to restore power in mountainous districts or neighborhoods, particularly along the hardest-hit region, southeast of the island. In fact, three FEMA generators are still the power of the island grid.


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Photos: Puerto Rico hammered by the Hurricane Maria

In Naguabo, Jose Martinez is without power for six months. For the first three months, Martinez and his family took baths with an industrial bucket. They stood in long queues for the food. Infuriating is the situation – the family took turns carrying and taking care of his wife, 82-year-old father, who was bedridden because of the disease of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

“I’ll tell you what, it is so difficult,” he said with tears in his eyes. “I was depressed for four days and my wife was so good, because we had our hands tied. You can do nothing.”

On Sunday, Martinez ‘ s the light finally came on. His house was a shelter for a dozen family members and friends during the last six months, each sharing the supplies and food. They cheer as they anxiously watched the AES power crews from Ohio and Texas light of their block of about two dozen houses.

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“I feel so happy,” Martinez said. “I was here for Hurricane George. That was hard, but Maria… it was a demon man, it was a demon.”

There are currently about 1,500 employees of public utilities on the island of 56 private utility companies throughout the country, according to the Edison Electric Institute, which is coordinating the effort. The workers are traveling to Puerto Rico to work of 30 days is stretching to 16 hours per day.

The 75 linemen of DTE Energy in Michigan is met with cheers and meals. Everywhere they go, people who have little and have been in the dark for six months cook for them. The crews have used their own money to buy bicycles for children and lights on to turn on the local baseball field.

“This resilient for six, seven months, and then just be thankful we are here…we talk about it every night, a few of the guys say that they are rough, tough linemen, but some of them go back to their rooms and cry,” said John Wagner, General Supervisor for DTE Energy.

There are currently about 1,500 employees of public utilities on the island of 56 private utility companies throughout the country, according to the Edison Electric Institute, which is coordinating the effort. The workers are traveling to Puerto Rico to work of 30 days is stretching to 16 hours per day.

(AP)

For many, however, six months no work and no power, they are forced to leave to Puerto Rico for good. More than 135,000 people have fled to the AMERICAN mainland, according to an estimate by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York. On the mainland, almost 7,000 families in hotels and motels after FEMA extended the temporary housing period to May.

Roberto Martinez, 56, lost the roof of his home in Yabucoa, where the Hurricane Maria made landfall. He takes his wife of 31 years, with the 27-year-old daughter to Indiana this summer. The craftsman a living creating custom doors and windows, but over the last six months he has not been able to afford the generator or the gas to power to his tool. Martinez is leaving behind his 94-year-old mother and five brothers and sisters.

“To move away from my grandmother, abandon my mother, my family after all those years together and have to take a decision like this now…it’s hard,” Martinez said. “I believe that I can do the work to lift my family.”

Six months after the Hurricane Maria made arrive in Puerto Rico, about 100,000 Americans on the island are still without power on the island.

(REUTERS)

They are not alone, however. His wife, Awellda Ortiz, said she personally knows of 30 people who have left since the storm. The family, the church of 400 has lost 25 percent of the parishioners.

Back in San Juan, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Roselló oversees the recovery efforts as well as tourists trickle back into the capital. At least 15 hotels are still closed and those open are overcrowded with the recovery teams. Taxi drivers, told Fox News they make up about a third of what they made for the storm.

“But it is still not on the normal level,” Roselló said. “Our expectation is that in the summer of air travel will be maintained to the level prior to the storm. The cruise ships are starting to roll.”

Families cheer after their power is restored six months after the devastating hurricane. For many, however, six months no work and no power, they are forced to leave to Puerto Rico for good. More than 135,000 people have fled to the AMERICAN mainland, according to an estimate by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York. On the mainland, almost 7,000 families in hotels and motels after FEMA extended the temporary housing period to May.

(Fox News)

Roselló told Fox News that he wants to completely refresh and privatize the preparation of the government-owned utility company, which he blames for an obsolete energy system. The governor remains frustrated by what he says, is the lack of urgency from Washington, D. C.

Puerto Rico asked for $90 billion in aid. The congress has appropriated $23 billion of that request, but only about $1.27 billion has made its way to the island so far. The governor wants Congress to release the funds now, with emphasis, that not one dollar spent on permanent public work projects.

“We are treated as second-class citizens,” Rosello said. “You talk about Puerto Rico, which is in fiscal emergency, and on top of that we are waiting four months to get money as after one or two weeks in Texas and Florida.”

Recovery still on the island, even if the residents are aware that the hurricane season begins in less than three months.

“My biggest petition now – let’s just for the service to the people,” the governor said. “Let’s not rebuild what needs to be built up, to be resilient and to prepare for the next storm of the season.”

Bryan Llenas currently serves as a New York-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). Click here for more information on Bryan Llenas. Follow him on Twitter @BryanLlenas.

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