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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.

Go deeper

5 hours ago - World

Top general: U.S. losing time to deter China

Stanley McChrystal. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Stanley McChrystal, a top retired general and Biden adviser, tells Axios that "China's military capacity has risen much faster than people appreciate," and the U.S. is running out of time to counterbalance that in Asia and prevent a scenario such as it seizing Taiwan.

Why it matters: McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recently briefed the president-elect as part of his cabinet of diplomatic and national security advisers. President-elect Joe Biden is considering which Trump- or Obama-era approaches to keep or discard, and what new strategies to pursue.

Progressives shift focus from Biden's Cabinet to his policy agenda

Joe Biden giving remarks in Wilmington, Del., last month. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Some progressives tell Axios they believe the window for influencing President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet selections has closed, and they’re shifting focus to policy — hoping to shape Biden's agenda even before he’s sworn in.

Why it matters: The left wing of the party often draws attention for its protests, petitions and tweets, but this deliberate move reflects a determination to move beyond some fights they won't win to engage with Biden strategically, and over the long term.

Dave Lawler, author of World
7 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.