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Puerto Rico

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Marlene Hernandez shuffled through winter coats with her cousin Kaliel Diaz at a hurricane relief center in Hartford. Diaz arrived from Puerto Rico with three other family members just days before.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

There will be a unity march for Puerto Rico on Sunday in Washington D.C.

Ana Valentin-Jackson is on the national committee for this event and is mobilizing Connecticut residents to get to the nation’s capital.

These days, Puerto Rico's monumental power restoration effort involves helicopters dropping 100-foot towers into the mountains and a "big dance" of crews, equipment and expertise from several agencies and companies. But progress has been slow and that dance has been a complicated and tedious one on the island, which is experiencing the largest outage in U.S. history.

And sometimes it's one light forward, two lights back.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

A return home from a distant journey is often comforting. For members of the Puerto Rican community in Connecticut the return to the island for them after Hurricane Maria is far different from their previous trips.

It's a muggy early afternoon in Morovis, a mountain community about 40 miles from San Juan. Army Reserve soldiers led by Captain Angel Morales are hard at work handing out cases of water and ready-to-eat meals from a flatbed truck. Hundreds of people line up in the parking lot of the Jaime Collazo High School.

Seven weeks ago, Hurricane Maria roared through the center of Puerto Rico. Winds battered the palm leaves and rain poured over the houses in the town of Barrancas.

The storm brought terror to German Santini, who was inside his home. Santini emerged the next day to see a town that looked like it had been hit by airstrikes.

“You get the urge to cry,” he said. “You don’t feel like doing anything, seeing everything destroyed. Puerto Rico is going to take a long time to recover from this.”

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Much of Puerto Rico remains devastated six weeks after Hurricane Maria, with many areas lacking access to electricity and clean water. The disaster has led some Puerto Rican families to relocate to the mainland.

This hour, family ties bring many evacuees to Connecticut--so how is our state welcoming these new arrivals in our community?

Central Connecticut State University.

Carolina Riollano flew into Florida on a humanitarian plane that was packed with people. Most of them were elderly or ill. But Riollano’s reason for leaving her home was different. She came here to learn.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Angel Rodriguez stood on the porch of his apartment overlooking the bay of San Juan. In the distance, a military helicopter was lifting off from an airstrip near the city’s convention center where the hurricane relief effort was being staged.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Pedro Bermudez, a Hartford school teacher, retired many years ago to Puerto Rico. He planned to live there for good with his wife Jeanette Hernandez.

Updated at 4:52 p.m. Eastern

On Sunday the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority cancelled the highly disputed $300 million contract awarded to Whitefish Energy, a tiny American company tasked with restoring power to the still storm-ravaged island. PREPA spokesperson Carlos Monroig confirmed the news to NPR.

The announcement came hours after Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló demanded the contract's cancellation, amid ongoing local and federal audits.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

We drove to Caguas, a city south of San Juan, four weeks after Hurricane Maria hit. Our guide was Luis Cotto -- a former Hartford city councilman now living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We traveled to Puerto Rico to tell stories; he traveled to deliver thousands of dollars in inflatable solar lights and water filters to people who need them, including members of his family.

Frankie Graziano / WNPR

Nelson Robles, 56, is the maintenance man at Primera Iglesia Bautista Emanuel church in downtown Bridgeport. He’s also a percussionist during mass. Every morning, he walks to the corner of his church – just off the altar to the right – and prays. He said that while he’s down on his knees looking for guidance, he feels God.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Blanca Ortiz-Torres was sitting in a Puerto Rican oasis. She was at a working bakery in the tiny mountain town of Maricao that had both a generator and a cistern and, as a result, could serve cold drinks, hot coffee, fresh pastries, and pizza.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The devastation left by Hurricane Maria on September 20 is overwhelming the millions of Americans who are still without power and unable to meet basic needs.

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