A year after Hurricane Maria, homes remain in ruins along the beach in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. Photo: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

By Paloma Esquivel
20 September 2018

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Los Angeles Times) – The rain falling into Bianca Cruz Pichardo’s home in Puerto Rico’s capital forms a small stream from her living room to the kitchen, past a cabinet elevated by cinder blocks.

The living room is dark, save for some light coming from the kitchen and a bedroom. The 25-year-old cannot bring herself to install light bulbs in the ceiling’s sockets because she fears being electrocuted.

For a year, her landlord in San Juan has told her he will repair damage caused when Hurricane Maria ripped through the island last September, she said, but still nothing. The worst of the rain is kept out by a blue tarp that serves as a temporary roof.

“He says, ‘This week I’ll bring the materials over,’” she said recently. “But he doesn’t do anything.”

Throughout Puerto Rico, the destruction caused by the devastating wind and rain generated by the Category 4 hurricane a year ago Thursday still shapes daily life.

Thousands of families rely on the blue tarps to protect themselves and their homes while awaiting repairs, many residents face financial struggles exacerbated by the storm, neighborhoods are dotted with shuttered schools and abandoned homes, and some residents can’t help worrying about whether they’ll survive when the next storm hits.

Hurricane Maria led to nearly 3,000 deaths, sent residents on desperate searches for food, water and medical treatment, knocked out electricity in many areas for months and damaged hundreds of thousands of homes. It caused thousands of residents of the U.S. territory to move to the mainland to protect themselves and their families. [more]

A year after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico still struggles to regain what hasn’t been lost for good — while fearing the next big one

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