Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico National Guard by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos

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.

FEMA Facing Another Lawsuit Over Hurricane Maria

Aug 1, 2018
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The Federal Emergency Management Agency is facing a second federal lawsuit relating to its response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. 90.7’s Crystal Chavez reports this suit is calling for FEMA to release records relating to its actions before and after the disaster.

Blue tarps still dot rooftops, homes lack electricity needed to refrigerate medicines, and clinics chip away at debts incurred from running generators. Yet despite these 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.

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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.

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

Puerto Rico National Guard by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos

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

Ariana Colón’s 1-year-old son Sebastian shows off his first word – “Mamá” – as she speaks with me over the phone from the hotel room in Kissimmee, Florida, where they’ve been living this year.

Along with Sebastian’s father, they arrived there shortly after Hurricane Maria devastated their home island, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, last September.

The family has benefited from a federal program for disaster victims called Transitional Sheltering Assistance. It pays their hotel tab while they find gainful employment and permanent housing.

But meeting landlord conditions for that housing has proven as difficult for Puerto Ricans like Colón as it so often does for longtime Florida residents.

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FEMA’s Transitional Housing Program for Puerto Rican families displaced after Hurricanes Irma and Maria is slated to end June 30.

Lanesha Smith of FEMA says that means families can still apply for short-term rental assistance in the U.S,. but the majority of programs will be offered in Puerto Rico.

“Families with sick and elderly folks and child who need around the clock assistance or are disabled those are the families who are left behind. And that’s why we need funds released by the Governor to make short-term housing an option.”

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Truck trailers have been turned into portable doctors’ offices by World Housing Solutions and Florida Hospital and sent to Puerto Rico.

Florida Hospitals’ Scott Bond says the mobile clinics will allow local physicians to provide general and dental care while conferring with physicians from around the world as needed.

“We can connect the patients that are seen in that trailer essentially anywhere in the world. But for our purposes we can connect them to San Juan Hospital and Florida Hospital.”

Puerto Rico's government began complying with a court order and released partial records Tuesday of deaths following Hurricane Maria. The data reveal that there were 1,427 more deaths in the last four months of 2017 than the average over the four years before. The new count comes as questions swirl around the official death toll and reports that hundreds of bodies remain unclaimed in the island's main morgue.

Hurricane Maria has reignited a small movement in Puerto Rico aimed at strengthening the local food system so the island can survive and thrive without dependence on the mainland U.S.

Straddled across Ausberto Maldonado's backyard in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, a suburb of San Juan, is a nagging reminder of Hurricane Maria's destructive power.

"See, that tree broke off that branch, which is as thick as a tree — and now it's in my yard," says Maldonado, a 65-year-old retiree.

Rats scurry from under the downed tree, preventing Maldonado from hanging his laundry. To get the tree removed, he must show up in person at a local government office. But the diabetic ulcers on his feet make it painful to walk.

Seven humanitarian groups from all over the country came together Sunday under the umbrella of the Puerto Rico Recovery Alliance to bring much-needed aid to the island.  

Ever since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the groups of volunteers that make up the alliance have been making individual trips to the U.S. territory to help.

Their mission on Sunday was to deliver 30,000 pounds of medical supplies to hospitals in Puerto Rico — and evacuate about 80 people in need of medical assistance or other support they can’t get on the island.

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After Hurricane Harvey flooded her city of Houston in August, Dr. Jennifer McQuade planned to donate socks to those affected. Instead, surprised by the lack of medical care at a nearby shelter, McQuade, an oncologist, became the unofficial leader of a group of physicians and mothers providing emergency aid at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. She triaged patients, solicited donations and recruited more doctors to join.

Volunteers from the Suncoast Animal League returned from their rescue trip in Puerto Rico Tuesday  night.

Along with them came more than 100 dogs and cats who were unable to be properly cared for due to the limited resources available following Hurricane Maria.

Saturday may have been rainy, but that didn’t stop a small private plane from getting eight very sick people out of Puerto Rico and into Ft. Lauderdale to receive the indispensable medical treatment they can't receive on the island at the moment. 

A pair of physicians from the University of South Florida have returned to Tampa after a trip to Puerto Rico, but they're already looking forward to going back to help in the island's long-term recovery.

RIO PIEDRAS – Puerto Rico’s government says power should be fully restored to the island by mid-December. But that’s three months after Hurricane Maria demolished the U.S. territory. And some fear that Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable people can’t wait that long.

A pair of University of South Florida physicians left over the weekend for Puerto Rico with some much-needed medical supplies. But it's just the beginning of USF's outreach to the island.

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has co-signed a letter asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to send more support to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Health-care funding was already tight before the storms, particularly in financially unstable Puerto Rico, where nearly half the population is covered by Medicaid.

In the hours before Hurricane Irma came barreling towards Florida, Gloria Guity and her adult children went to five different shelters before they arrived at Miami Edison Senior High School.

“Here is better than where we were,” Guity, 76, said sitting at a cafeteria table. “Here I told them to put me next to the bathroom so at least I can take them to the bathroom.”

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The C130's four propeller engines scream as it lifts off from MacDill Air Force base in Tampa.

The plane is loaded with pallets of medical supplies bound for St. Croix, nine days after the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands took a direct hit from Hurricane Maria.

Humanitarian flights to the islands of St. Croix and Puerto Rico are continuing in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Crews based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa on Friday loaded a cargo plane with supplies and headed for St. Croix, where patients from island hospitals were picked up and taken to a Columbia, South Carolina hospital

Thousands of American military personnel are now assigned to the Hurricane Maria relief effort. Among them is the 45th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron based at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base.

Air Force Major Gavril Goodman was on one of the first humanitarian evacuation flights that landed in St. Croix five days after the Category 5 hurricane destroyed the island's power grid.

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