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Hurricane Maria

Roberto Roldan

Many Puerto Rican’s lost everything when Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20, 2017. Tens of thousands of people made the decision to take what belongings they had left and travel to the mainland. Many have started new lives in Central and South Florida. These new Floridians already have had significant influence on political races, the public school system and affordable housing.

This week on Florida Matters, we'll hear the stories of two people who chose to make the Tampa Bay area their new home:

Like many Puerto Ricans who fled to the mainland after Hurricane Maria, Jose Santiago has been scrambling to find a place to live. The federal vouchers that pay for his hotel room near the Orlando airport expire at checkout time Friday.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

A federal judge Friday required elections officials in 32 counties to provide Spanish-language sample ballots for the November general election --- but said there wasn’t enough time to order more far-reaching steps to help Puerto Ricans eligible to vote in Florida.

Wikimedia Commons

The federal government is reimbursing Florida schools that took in thousands of Puerto Rican children displaced by Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico's governor raised the U.S. territory's official death toll from Hurricane Maria from 64 to 2,975 on Tuesday after an independent study found that the number of people who succumbed in the desperate, sweltering aftermath had been severely undercounted.

Drew McKissick / Flickr

Advocates for Puerto Ricans who moved to Florida after they were displaced by Hurricane Maria have filed a federal lawsuit demanding 32 counties in the state provide voting materials in Spanish ahead of the November election. 


Puerto Rico's sole provider of electricity for 1.5 million residents says power has been returned to all homes that lost electricity from Hurricane Maria last September.

Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority identified a family near the mountainous, rural barrios of Real and Anón, in Ponce, a city and municipality in the island's south, as their final customers to receive returned power. PREPA tweeted their image.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it didn't handle housing vouchers for displaced residents of Puerto Rico any differently from those of displaced Texas and Florida residents after last year's hurricanes.

In Weary Post-Storm Puerto Rico, Medicaid Cutbacks Bode New Ills

Aug 6, 2018

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Blue tarps still dot rooftops, homes lack electricity needed to refrigerate medicines, and clinics chip away at debts incurred from running generators. Yet despite the residual effects from last year’s devastating hurricanes, Puerto Rico is moving ahead with major cuts to its health care safety net that will affect more than a million of its poorest residents.

Judge Extends FEMA Maria Emergency Aid And Sets A Hearing

Jul 23, 2018

A judge has again ordered an extension of FEMA’s temporary shelter program for displaced Puerto Ricans. The judge is giving families until midnight August 6 to stay in hotels. That means checkout would be on August 7.

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were hit by power outages and widespread flooding Monday as remnants of the Atlantic season's first hurricane provided an initial test of how far they have recovered from last year's devastating storms.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico last September, Julio Ildefonso and his mother watched as their wooden home in Bayamón was blown away.

The island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, is an isolated place known both for its remote beaches and the decades during which the U.S. Navy used those beaches for bombing runs and training exercises.

Vieques has long been a hard place to stay for locals, but a good place for visitors. Now, nine months after Hurricane Maria, that dynamic is even more at play.

Spc. Samuel Keenan / FEMA

Displaced Puerto Rican families who were preparing to leave their hotels and motels on Thursday will get to stay a bit longer.

A judge has stopped FEMA from ending its housing assistance program for Puerto Rican families displaced by hurricane Maria. 

YUISA RIOS / FEMA

The federal program that has provided hotel vouchers to Puerto Rican families displaced by Hurricane Maria will end on Saturday, and advocates are worried some Tampa Bay families will be left with nowhere to go.

Updated at 9:35 a.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has visited Puerto Rico six times since the island was ravaged by Hurricane Maria last year. He's brought aid, advice, and on one trip, even a delegation of utility providers to consult on how best to restore the island's tattered power grid.

A big discrepancy between Puerto Rico’s official death toll from Hurricane Maria and lives lost according to Harvard researchers has prompted U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) and other Democrats to call for new standards in counting storm deaths.

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the federal government signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Carnival Corporation to help house federal aid workers and first responders on the company's Fascination cruise ship in the United States Virgin Islands.

Updated 12:43 p.m. ET

Perhaps 5,000 people died in Puerto Rico in 2017 for reasons related to September's Hurricane Maria, according to a study that dismisses the official death toll of 64 as "a substantial underestimate."

A research team led by scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health didn't simply attempt to count dead bodies in the wake of the powerful storm. Instead, they surveyed randomly chosen households and asked the occupants about their experiences.

Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson applauded FEMA's decision to extend a program that provides temporary housing for Puerto Rican families displaced by Hurricane Maria. 

 

 


Caribbean American Civic Movement

A small street festival outside Miami features booths adorned with Puerto Rican flags. A band plays salsa music as vendors offer specialties from the Caribbean island such as rice with pork and chickpeas. There's also a woman working her way through the crowd with a clipboard, her white T-shirt emblazoned with the words "Your vote, your voice, your future."

An opulent Florida hotel is spending tens of thousands of dollars to ship its two large generators to Puerto Rico.

The decision comes nearly a week after a blackout caused power outages for much of the fragile island still struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Maria.

Steven Shepard / FEMA

An island-wide blackout hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday after an excavator accidentally downed a transmission line, officials said, as the U.S. territory struggles to repair an increasingly unstable power grid nearly seven months after Hurricane Maria.

Yuisa Rios / FEMA

Puerto Rican veterans will be reuniting for the first time in 30 years Saturday, and they’ll be raising awareness about the current situation on the island.

For most of the veterans, this will be the first time seeing each other since they were stationed at Naval Station Roosevelt Roads in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, in the 1980s and 1990s.

Office of the Governor

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is partnering with the South Florida Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce and a private university from the Caribbean island to offer jobs to Hurricane Maria's evacuees.

Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder

  Farmers in Puerto Rico are still reeling from the devastation from Hurricane Maria. Many coffee, banana and tobacco crops are lost, as is a lot of livestock.

 

Kev Cook / Flickr

With three strong hurricanes, wildfires, hail, flooding, tornadoes and drought, the United States tallied a record high bill last year for weather disasters: $306 billion.

FEMA is extending housing assistance for Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria.

The extension lasts through March 20. Puerto Rico’s government asked for the extension of the Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program as more than a third of the island remains without power.

But the Rev. Jose Nieves of the First United Methodist Church of Kissimmee says many families and hotels where they are staying have not yet gotten the word.

Staff Sgt. Carmen Fleischmann / Florida Army National Guard

Just like 2004 and 2005 – Florida will remember 2017 as the year of hurricanes especially Hurricane Irma. It was a year that the Florida National Guard learned some new lessons in disaster response.

Florida activated its National Guard troops days before Hurricane Irma made landfall on Sept. 10 in the Florida Keys.

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