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From our Expert Voices conversation on Puerto Rico's recovery from Hurricane Maria.

Hurricane Maria was more than a disaster for Puerto Rico, it was a catastrophe. As a U.S. territory, the island is entitled to all the resources freed up by a presidential disaster declaration, but these mainly address the needs of short-term housing and business recovery and the restoration of publicly owned infrastructure.

Rebuilding communities, and especially doing so with resilience in mind, will require a large infusion of funding. The alternative is a protracted humanitarian crisis that drives out people and businesses. It took more than ten years for New Orleans to return to its pre-Katrina population, but the demographics of the city changed irreversibly in the process. Many people found their networks and cultures permanently displaced.

Given Puerto Rico's prior economic challenges and isolated geography, the risks that the island's fragile economy will spiral downward are increasing. With the tragedy of catastrophe also come opportunities for innovation and change. But to seize these, the planning for long-term recovery has to be collaborative and inclusive—not top-down. Residents, businesses, institutions, and the financial sector must all be motivated to stay and tip in.

What's next: In the dynamic recovery phase, leaders have to anticipate the potential for cascading and unintended consequences, and engage the community for sustainable redevelopment.

Other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
37 mins ago - Science

Biden's military space future

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden should anticipate major and minor conflicts in space from even the earliest days of his presidency.

The big picture: President Donald Trump's military and civil space policies are well-documented, but Biden's record and views on space are less clear.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus may have been in U.S. in December 2019, study finds — Hospital crisis deepens as holiday season nears.
  2. Politics: Bipartisan group of senators unveil $908 billion COVID stimulus proposalFDA chief was called to West Wing to explain why agency hasn't moved faster on vaccine — The words that actually persuade people on the pandemic
  3. Vaccine: Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorizationVaccinating rural America won't be easy — Being last in the vaccine queue is young people's next big COVID test.
  4. States: Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as New York's COVID capacity dwindles.
  5. World: European regulators to assess first COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 29
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The state of play of the top vaccines.

Bipartisan group of senators unveils $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.