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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

Cuomo asks New York AG and chief judge to choose "independent" investigator into sexual harassment claims

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A special counselor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Sunday asking the state's attorney general and chief judge to jointly pick an "independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation" to investigate claims of sexual harassment against the governor.

The state of play: The statement is an about-face from Cuomo, who had previously selected a former judge close to a top aide to lead the investigation, the New York Times reported, a move that was widely criticized.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.