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The Island Next Door

A team of Connecticut veterans and volunteers -- self-described as the Puerto Rican "water dogs" -- pumps water from a river in Salinas, Puerto Rico through a mobile filtration and purification system for residents there to drink.
Credit Ryan Caron King / WNPR

As Puerto Rico recovers from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, WNPR is committed to telling the stories of residents with ties to Connecticut. We've sent a reporting team - news director Jeff Cohen, and digital reporter Ryan Caron King - to the island to meet people who are delivering aid and reconnecting with loved ones.  Listen for reports on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Where We Live and NEXT.

If you have loved ones in Puerto Rico and want to share your story, please email us at news@wnpr.org. You can also join a Facebook group WNPR in Puerto Rico After Maria. 

Coverage of Hurricane Maria from WNPR, the New England News Collaborative, and NPR:

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Brian Rivera was finishing breakfast in the lobby of the Red Room Inn in downtown Hartford. He’s been living there with his wife and two toddlers since December. And he didn’t know yet if he’d have to move out soon.

Among the thousands of people who left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit last year, many have come to New England. And for a variety of reasons, they won’t return to the island.   

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Valle Hill is a neighborhood in Puerto Rico that shouldn’t exist.

Lori Mack / WNPR

U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro recently returned from a trip to Puerto Rico where she surveyed Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.

In the days after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, residents of some of the hardest hit rural areas found themselves stranded — cut off from more populated areas by mudslides, crumbled roads and bridges, and toppled trees and power lines. In those early days, the only food and water many of these communities received arrived by helicopter, sent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Members of Hartford’s Puerto Rican community held a rally and a candlelight vigil Friday night in front of the hotel where dozens of hurricane evacuees from the island have been living since Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló says he is moving to sell off the U.S. territory's public power company, as nearly a third of the island's electric customers remain without power four months after Hurricane Maria struck the island on Sept. 20.

Rosselló said Monday that it might take 18 months to privatize the insolvent Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, the largest U.S. public utility as measured by the number of customers — 3.3 million.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says that two dozen Puerto Rican families who relocated Hartford will no longer be eligible for housing assistance on Monday because inspections showed little or no damage to their homes in Puerto Rico.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Only days after the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it would pay for dozens of hurricane evacuees to stay in a Harford hotel until mid-February, state officials were told by FEMA on Thursday there had been an error, and that several of the families had to vacate their temporary housing. 

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

State officials say that several dozen Puerto Rican families who were at risk of losing federal housing assistance could now have their stay in Connecticut extended until mid-February.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Xiomara Vega moved to Connecticut from Puerto Rico with her three-year-old daughter after Hurricane Maria knocked out the electricity in her home. She’s trying to make a new life there, but she doesn’t want to forget her old one. And celebrating Three Kings Day -- the Christian holiday also known as the Epiphany -- is a big part of that.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Any Hurricane Maria evacuee who walks into a Hartford relief center gets a warm meal, some winter clothes, and a pair of boots for trudging in the New England snow. That goes a long way for someone displaced from the tropical weather.

David DesRoches / WNPR

KendraLiz Gonzalez had been in cosmetology school for only two months when Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico, destroying her school. So she took her twin girls, hopped on a plane, and came to Hartford, where she's staying with her aunt.

One hundred days ago, powerful Category 4 Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico leaving the island severely crippled and the more than 3 million U.S. citizens desperate for help.

Now, Puerto Ricans on the island and U.S. mainland are feeling angry and the lack of progress and they are organizing to demand help for Puerto Rico.

Though life has improved for some Puerto Ricans on the island more than three months since Maria hit, the Caribbean island is still in recovery mode.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Puerto Rico is officially declaring itself open for tourism -- nearly three months after Hurricane Maria. But on an island where so many people still lack electricity, what does open for tourism mean?

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