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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

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. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Six months after Hurricane Maria, the recovery effort in Puerto Rico is well underway. Still, the island  faces many critical long-term challenges.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Six months after Hurricane Maria, evacuees from Puerto Rico are still looking for affordable places to live. And they’re looking to the government for help, particularly through available public housing, but they’re not getting it.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

It’s lunchtime at Central Connecticut State University and 10 students converge on their usual spot in the dining hall. They start talking about the food — and it becomes clear that they don’t love the rice. They explain that it’s not as seasoned as the homemade arroz in Puerto Rico.

Photo by Jacqueline Serna/Americares

Six months on from Hurricane Maria, Stamford-based nonprofit Americares still has staff in Puerto Rico, helping the island’s health services recover from the storm and provide much-needed care to residents.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

A letter signed by Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, and six other mayors from Connecticut’s larger cities was sent to Governor Dannel Malloy Monday asking for assistance with evacuee families in three areas.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

A two bedroom unit at Brick Hollow in Hartford comes with a refrigerator, a stove, and a washer and dryer.

Maribel Perez has five people that live with her and no money to stock her new apartment with basic furniture.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

It’s mid-March and Hartford Public High School teacher Bridget Allison goes over essay-writing tips for her fourth-period class. After a while, she checks in on a group of students who are seated together — a few of the evacuees from Puerto Rico.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

This week will mark six months since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, devastating the island.

Since the storm, thousands of Puerto Ricans have moved to Connecticut to restart their lives. This hour, we hear some of their stories as we take stock of the continuing impact of the hurricane.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Hartford’s hurricane relief center was where evacuees from Puerto Rico could come to get help: help finding housing, jobs, winter clothing -- whatever supplies or services they needed to restart their lives in Connecticut.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Show me the money.

That’s the message from Hartford Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The disaster last fall uprooted many Puerto Ricans who fled the island, including children who ended up enrolling in Connecticut schools.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

The Connecticut Puerto Rican Agenda held a “Rally And Lobby Day for Puerto Rican Families” Wednesday in Hartford. The event was put on at the Capitol to get support for a disaster relief bill proposed in the House of Representatives.

Connecticut Puerto Rican Agenda

A rally for Puerto Rican families will take place in Hartford on Wednesday. Organizers of the event hope it will lead to the passage of a bill in the Connecticut legislature that will set aside money for hurricane relief.

Utility crews in Viejo San Juan, photographed in November, 2017.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

When Hurricane Maria hit, Puerto Rico was already in a bad spot. The island was in a deep recession, its state-run utility was basically broke, and for years, the power grid hadn’t been updated.

Efraín O’Neill is looking for something different.

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