Sep 24, 2017

Puerto Rico's hurricane recovery will take years

A line to buy bread in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria passed through the island. Photo: Carlos Giusti / AP

Last week, Hurricane Maria, which came right on the heels of Hurricane Irma, ripped through Puerto Rico, killing at least 13 people and wiping out electricity on the entire island. Strapped for resources, Puerto Rico now faces a steep recovery and officials say residents may not have power for 4 to 6 months.

The bottom line: Hit by back-to-back hurricanes and $73 billion in debt, Puerto Rico is dealing with a crisis of historic proportions. The U.S. federal government will have to take a significant role in the recovery process to give the U.S. territory a chance at bouncing back.

  • The state-run power company in Puerto Rico is broke, along with several other government agencies, due to the debt crisis.
  • President Trump has pledged the full support of the U.S. government in Puerto Rico's recovery and said he will visit the island.
  • The port of San Juan is open and accepting shipments of food, water and generators.
  • Puerto Rico's federal control board has authorized $1 billion for hurricane relief, but Gov. Ricardo Rossello has said he will ask for more. The damage could top $30 billion, per MarketWatch.
  • FEMA response teams have already been landing in Puerto Rico and begun search and rescue missions. FEMA also said it would bring satellite phones to towns and cities to use while the telephone and power lines are repaired.
  • 70,000 people were evacuated from areas downstream of the Guajataca Dam, which officials said had cracked.

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