WNPR

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

It’s been more than six months since Hurricane Maria tore through the island of Puerto Rico — taking out power lines, destroying homes, disrupting industries, raking the island’s forests, and displacing families.

Connecticut Public Radio’s reporters have covered the aftermath of the storm both from the mainland and from the island’s streets and mountains.  We’ve told stories about families still trying to provide the basics, college students reimagining their futures, schools adapting to hundreds of new students, and people just hoping to furnish their new, but empty, apartments.

Our reporters and editors decided to cover Hurricane Maria because — with nearly 300,000 state residents who claim island roots — it’s a local story. The island is an ocean away from our newsroom, but it might as well be one town over. Connecticut Public Radio is committed to telling these stories of people touched by the storm.

  

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:

Nine months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, there are an estimated 300 families still living in hotels in Massachusetts with FEMA and the state footing the bill.

Damaged houses in Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Governor Dannel Malloy signed a bill on Tuesday that allows school districts to work together to help teach students from Puerto Rico who were displaced by Hurricane Maria. 

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Sandra Quinones said she suffers from severe depression.

“Just like any human being, you immediately say ‘I’m not crazy,’” Quinones said through an interpreter. “Although you know that something is wrong, you’re crying all the time. You’re not yourself.”

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Sen. Richard Blumenthal wants the Trump administration to take responsibility for the death toll in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria, which a new study has now pegged at almost 5,000.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Commencement was two days away and Karina Lasalle Arroyo had hauled out nearly seven months’ worth of luggage from her time in Connecticut.

She stood in a dormitory parking lot and confirmed she was ready to go home.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued a new deadline for hurricane evacuees from Puerto Rico to sign up for help--June 18.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

An estimated 13,000 Puerto Ricans came to Connecticut after Hurricane Maria, according to The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Minutes into touring the Mark Twain House in Hartford, the visitors came across a black-and-white photo of a young Clara Clemens, a daughter of Mark Twain. Soon, it dawned on everyone that Clara looks a lot like Milianis Rivera, a Puerto Rican evacuee.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

A House bill to provide state aid for evacuees from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is being held back by its sponsors. The move is being made because it likely wouldn’t have made it out of the appropriations committee.

Bulkeley High School senior Yeicy Alejandro, smiling at left, talks to her new mentors from Central Connecticut State University. They're in the new "Ambassadors" program - Puerto Rican evacuees helping other students displaced by Hurricane Maria.
Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Communications major Marivelisse Acosta attends Central Connecticut State University. But on Wednesday night, she stood in the cafeteria of Hartford’s Bulkeley High School, contemplating what to say as a mentor to the school’s displaced students from Puerto Rico.

The guests of honor during Saturday's monument dedication ceremony received Congressional Gold Medals. The memorial honoring the Borinqueneers is located on a cul-de-sac on the corner of Washington St. and Borinqueneers Way in New Britain.
Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

A monument has been built in New Britain to commemorate the service of a segregated United States Army unit made up of volunteers from the island of Puerto Rico -- the Borinqueneers. On Saturday, dignitaries from Connecticut and Puerto Rico came together to honor these veterans.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

A sprightly “Good morning!” awaited students and parents who approached Sanchez Elementary School on the Friday before spring break.

Maybe the school staff was in an extra good mood? But Merelys Torres, secretary of Sanchez’s parent-teacher organization, said it’s like this every morning. She noticed it right away when her family came to Hartford from Puerto Rico last fall — a sensitive time for her two kids.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Details on how states could apply for federal disaster relief money for U.S. schools were due out over a week ago.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

The entire island of Puerto Rico lost power Wednesday morning-- its second major outage in a week.

Felix Viera Garcia hosts "Hablando En Serio."
Daniela Marulanda / Connecticut Public Radio

Hablando En Serio, which translates to Talking Seriously is the name of a show on WPRX 1120 that has been part of the Latino community for the last 30 years. The one-hour interview show out of New Britain is hosted by Felix Viera Garcia. 

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