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:

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.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

The memory of Hurricane Maria still lives with Carmen Cotto.

Hurricane evacuees Yara Vasquez (left) and Wanda Ortiz (center) watch a press conference at the hotel they were living in with their families under a FEMA program on January 19, 2018.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

More than five months after Hurricane Maria, Connecticut researchers are working to better understand the needs of families who’ve relocated from the island to Hartford.

Members of Americares, including Dr. Anne Peterson (left), unload a plane containing medical supplies in San Juan this past October.
Alejandro Granadillo / Americares

Representatives from a Stamford-based nonprofit are heading to Puerto Rico this week to provide health services to Hurricane Maria survivors.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

A coalition of activist groups, union organizers, and elected officials are calling for Yale University to disclose and cancel its holdings in Puerto Rican debt.

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.

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