Hurricane Michael flattened towns where survivors remain in disbelief

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Hurricane Michael flattened towns where survivors remain in disbelief

“I looked over at my husband and I took his hand and I said we’re not going to make it,” Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson recalled thinking amid the hurricane.
by Natalie Valdés /  / Updated 
The sunset in Mexico Beach, Florida,

Mexico Beach is ground zero with every home leveled.Natalie Valdes / NBC News

LYNN HAVEN, Fla. — For a grueling 55 minutes, Mayor Margo Anderson didn’t know if they were going to survive Hurricane Michael.

She rode out the storm in the police headquarters building here with about 40 other people, including police officers, their families and their pets.

The group went room to room, dodging falling debris until the eye came through. Then, silence.

“I looked over at my husband and I took his hand and I said we’re not going to make it,” said Anderson. “We are not going to make it.”

Fortunately, all 40 people sheltered inside survived. Once the storm passed, they crawled through blown out windows to get out of the demolished building. The first time she went back inside the building, it was almost too much to bear.

“I have normally a very low, calm voice and I can feel myself just talking about it and I’m short of breath,” she said.

What Anderson lived through in Lynn Haven echoes the destruction seen by those throughout the area. The death toll from Hurricane Michael rose to 19 Sunday as searchers continued to make their way through the devastated parts of the Florida Panhandle. Residents have been left in disbelief, unsure of what’s next.

Four miles south of Lynn Haven is Panama City, Florida. Along the main road through town, every business has either some damage or is completely destroyed.

A local auto shop owner in Panama City was so worried about looting that he spent the night in his destroyed building armed with a shotgun.

William Johnson helps pack up a friend's belongings as he returns to his damaged home from hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach
William Johnson helps pack up a friend’s belongings as he returns to his damaged home from hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida, on Oct. 14, 2018.David Goldman / AP

Meanwhile, Mexico Beach, just 24 miles away from Panama City, is considered ground zero for hurricane damage — every home there was leveled by the wind and rain. Search and rescue teams from Tennessee, Indiana and Florida are on the ground searching for 250 people who chose to stay behind and are currently unaccounted for.

“We continue to go through that list to assure that we account for everyone,” said Michael Pruitt, PIO for FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Incident Support Team.

Those without any insurance are in dire straits. Kelly Mitchell said her grandparent’s beach house is beyond repair. It was a place where generations of family members came together to enjoy the peacefulness of a small town coastal community of just about 1,000 people.

Kelly Mitchell drove back to Mexico Beach to find these pictures that her grandmother who would have been 100 years old had painted.
Kelly Mitchell drove back to Mexico Beach to find these pictures that her grandmother who would have been 100 years old had painted.Natalie Valdes / NBC News

“I know it’s just a big house but it has a lot of memories for us,” said Mitchell. “There’s a five foot of storm surge inside and it’s totally mud and sand and everything in the house is just destroyed. ”

Mitchell and her daughter Abby Golden made their way from Blountstown to Mexico Beach for one thing.

“We came down here mainly to get pictures that my grandmother who would have been 100 years old had painted in the house,” said Mitchell. “We wanted to salvage that and we were able to pick those up.”

In Lynn Haven, Anderson is working hard to check on her community, riding around otherwise impassible roads in a golf cart.

“We are all together. We have a hashtag. Lynn Haven Together And Strong. And that’s what we are,” said Anderson. “We have hope for the future and we’re going to get through it. People here are devastated. Our town has been catastrophically affected.”

Anderson organized the first distribution center in her city where residents can get a hot meal, water and ice. Volunteers have been working around the clock serving homemade casseroles, hot dogs, burgers, and even cupcakes. Everything has been donated from neighboring cities where people have power, can cook or can reach open grocery stores miles away.

“There’s a lot of good people here,” said Mara Harrison. “They just want to help.”

Harrison has lived in the Florida Panhandle all her life and she’s never seen devastation like this.

People line up for FEMA aid in Lynn Haven, Florida
People line up for FEMA aid in Lynn Haven, Florida, on Oct. 14, 2018.Natalie Valdes / NBC News

Across the street from the volunteer distribution center, her husband’s dentist office barely stands. But Harrison is more concerned about her neighbors who can’t leave their pummeled homes.

“There’s a lot of people who don’t have the means to leave and those are the people we need to help,” she said.

Anderson said 80 to 90 percent of the homes in Lynn Haven are destroyed. The Mexico Beach city manager said 95 percent of the homes in Mexico beach are uninhabitable.

Residents in Lynn Haven aren’t waiting for help. Although FEMA arrived Sunday to begin the process of providing transitional sheltering assistance to residents, volunteers continued to serve hot meals.

“Who’s going to help? People just don’t know they need to,” Harrison said as she prepared hot dogs and hamburgers for a long line of hungry neighbors. “They have no idea it’s like this.”

Hurricane Leslie rams into Portugal with 109mph winds: Lisbon devastated by storm

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SUNDAY EXPRESS)

 

Hurricane Leslie rams into Portugal with 109 mph winds: Lisbon devastated by storm

HURRICANE Leslie has devastated Lisbon as it batters Portugal with 109 mph winds leaving 27 people injured.

Heavy rain causes deadly mudslide in Sierra Leone

Authorities urged people to stay indoors and to stay away from coastal areas as the storm brought heavy rain, strong winds and surging seas.

At least 27 people have suffered minor injuries, according to civil defense officials.

The storm was the most intense overnight bringing localized flooding and uprooting thousands of trees.

Civil defense commander Luis Belo Costa said after Saturday night that “the greatest danger has passed”.

More than 300,000 homes have lost power, the commander at the Civil Protection Agency said.

Power authority EDP said more than 200 power lines were affected by the storm.

Over 60 people were forced to leave their homes.

Lisbon was the worst affected and Figueira da Foz, Averio, Viseu and Porto also suffered damage.

Hurricane Leslie has battered the Iberian peninsula

Hurricane Leslie has battered the Iberian peninsula (Image: REUTERS)

Portugal’s weather service had issued red warnings or dangerous coastal conditions for 13 of its 18 mainland districts.

A resident of Figueira da Foz described the storm like a war zone.

They told SIC television: “I have never seen anything like it, The town seemed to be in a state of war, with cars smashed by fallen trees. People were very worried.”

The main motorway in Portugal was blocked by a fallen tree preventing services from traveling.

Hurricane Leslie causes widespread damage in Portugal

Play Video

Thousands of trees have been uprooted

The latest forecast for the storm (Image: ACCU-WEATHER)

Hurricane Leslie was downgraded to a tropical storm and by Sunday morning most of the powerful winds and heave rains had subsided.

Spain and southern France have also been affected by the powerful storm.

Winds uprooted trees in the center of Spain early Sunday morning.

Flood warnings have also been issued in the north and northwest of the country for today.

More than 300,000 people have lost power

More than 300,000 people have lost power (Image: REUTERS)

Parts of southern France have also been put on alert for storms and flooding.

The storm formed on September 23 and spent weeks in the Atlantic Ocean before coming to the Iberian peninsula.

It was hovering over the Atlantic for so long because it didn’t encounter a strong enough weather system to force it towards land, according to Accu-weather.

It is rare for an Atlantic hurricane to hit the Iberian peninsula as only five have been recorded.

The last tropical system to follow in Leslie’s path was Vince in 2005.

No Food, No FEMA: Hurricane Michael’s Survivors Are Furious

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE DAILY BEAST)

 

JUST LIKE PUERTO RICO

No Food, No FEMA: Hurricane Michael’s Survivors Are Furious

Miles and miles of Florida are obliterated, and residents have been left to fend for themselves with little help from the government.

Joe Raedle/Getty

PANAMA CITY, Florida—Hurricane Michael’s sudden transformation into an unprecedented storm haunts everyone on the Florida Panhandle who lived through it. “It was raw power,” says Panama City resident Walter McAlster, “you felt you were in it, not outside and didn’t know if you would live through it. You knew that everything was going to change the landscape forever.”

And it did, in the space of three hours.

The destruction is everywhere, at every corner, as far as the eye can see. Mexico Beach, where the hurricane’s eye wall slammed into Florida with 140 mph winds, is flattened. Panama City, gem of the Emerald Coast, looks like a bomb has been dropped on it. It is now a desolate landscape of toppled power poles, transformers, electrical lines, severed trees, and metal roofing, twisted and tangled into a sea of debris. Nearly all homes, businesses, stores, banks, schools are severely damaged or destroyed, skeletal remains with blown out windows or crushed facades. To residents, it is unrecognizable.

A roof over a boat storage building that collapsed following Hurricane Michael on Oct. 11, 2018, in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Chris O’Meara-Pool/Getty

There is so much rubble that the official death toll of 14 is expected to rise as search-and-rescue teams inspect thousands of buildings, looking for the missing. A team from the Miami Fire Department found a body in a Mexico Beach home on Friday. About 1,700 workers have checked 27,000 homes, Gov. Rick Scott said after meeting with emergency responders on Saturday evening.

The debris has rendered most roads and streets virtually impassible for evacuees and first responders. Electric poles bent at 90 degrees and power lines strewn like spaghetti cover most lanes. Nearly all transformers were destroyed. Vehicles dodge ruined trees, split like toothpicks or uprooted by the power of the storm.

View of the damaged caused by Hurricane Michael when it hit Mexico Beach, Florida, on Oct. 10, 2018.

HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty

Driving across the Apalachicola National Forest reserve that borders the coast was like touring a cemetery: endless rows of decapitated trees, leaning perfectly aligned like fallen prisoners who had been executed. Electrical poles 30 feet high have been split in half, their power lines strewn across the macadam. It went on like this for 60 miles.

Since the storm, there’s been no electricity and no water in Panama City. Emergency disaster relief was yet to be seen in strength as of Saturday morning and residents were growing more frustrated and desperate.

Chantelle Goolspy sat in her car making phone calls to get help. Goolspy and many of her neighbors live in a public housing area in downtown Panama City that was badly devastated.

“We’re in need of food, water, anything, we’re not getting any help. The whole street needs help,” Goolspy told the Red Cross. “FEMA referred me to you. That person told me to call 211.”

Chantelle Goolspy and her son, Antoine.

Ingrid Arnesen/The Daily Beast

Down the street, Barbara Sanders stood outside her daughter’s unit, where she had come to stay during the hurricane.

“We’re not getting any help,” she said. “We need food. It’s just crazy.”

Sanders said that not a single relief agency had come by to check on them. Only the police had come and it was to tell everyone to leave. “They told us there’s nothing they can do and it’s gonna take a long time to rebuild,” Sanders said.

Just then a pick-up truck arrived with water. It was the first help this neighborhood had received and it turned out to be two brothers—Chris and Brendon Hill, from Louisiana—who had decided to come and help.

Homes destroyed by Hurricane Michael are shown in this aerial photo on Oct. 11, 2018, in Mexico Beach, Florida.

Chris O’Meara-Pool/Getty

In neighboring Panama City Beach, city manager Mario Gisbert wasn’t going to wait for federal emergency assistance. Volunteers from Florida and other states brought water, set up a food kitchen for police, and prepared 1,500 meals for locals. A local church is preparing to distribute meals at 15 stations in Panama City.

“The American people are helping us,” Gisbert said. “FEMA will eventually come into the game and get the accolades in six months.”

Federal, state, and local officials were hunkered down at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) set up at Gulf Coast State College in Lynn Haven, trying to get urgently needed food and water to residents. The EOC turned down The Daily Beast’s request to speak with the EOC chief, Mark Bowen, and city officials. Spokesperson Catie Feenie said the focus was on “coordinating some patrols who are in life-saving mode” for the 60,000 residents who had not evacuated before the hurricane, like Goolspy and Sanders.

“We’re telling everybody to save [food and water] because it will be days before we’re ready to do that,” Feenie said.

At a press conference in Panama City on Saturday evening, Gov. Scott stressed the same point.

“Everybody just needs to help each other right now,” he said.

Meanwhile, some 17,000 utility workers are busy restoring power to 245,000 Florida homes and businesses without electricity.

Boats in dock were reduced to rubble when Hurricane Michael passed through Panama City, Florida, on Oct. 10, 2018.

Joe Raedle/Getty

Officials said schools have been closed indefinitely, but word hadn’t gotten out. Goolspy’s 13-year son, Antoine, was hopeful he could return soon. “I don’t want to repeat my seventh grade because without education you can’t get ahead,” he said, adding he couldn’t wait to take a shower, too.

Word about not getting water or meals had not yet reached rural communities inundated by the hurricane’s rains and storm surge. In Gadsden County, outside Tallahassee, where the storm killed four people, county commissioner Anthony Viegbesie said he had not seen a single relief agency.

“This is a community that lives on agriculture. Without electricity, the wells don’t work,” he said. “We survive primitively.”

Typhoon Mangkhut Hits Hong Kong/mainland China; 40 reported dead in Philippines

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Typhoon Mangkhut lashes Hong Kong and mainland China; 40 reported dead in Philippines

Hong Kong (CNN)Hong Kong residents huddled indoors Sunday and strong winds sent debris flying as Typhoon Mangkhut, the world’s strongest storm this year, carved a destructive and deadly path from the Philippines toward mainland China.

The Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) raised the storm signal to T10 — the highest level possible — Sunday morning local time, with the city almost entirely shut down.
Fierce winds have already torn off roofs, smashed windows and downed trees in Hong Kong, as authorities warned of the threat of storm surges and flooding from torrential rain.
Mangkhut was recorded packing sustained winds of 173 kilometers per hour (107 miles per hour) and gusts up to 223 kilometers per hour (138 miles per hour) as the storm’s eye passed south of the territory in the early afternoon, according to the HKO.
At 4 p.m. local time, the storm was 110 kilometers (68 miles) west-southwest of Hong Kong, and heading for the surrounding Pearl River Delta, home to 120 million people, the HKO reported later Sunday. Mangkhut was expected to make landfall sometime Sunday evening in southern mainland China.
Along the coast, the gambling enclave of Macau, which was hit hard by Super Typhoon Hato last August, closed all its casinos, and all fishing boats from China’s Guangdong province have been called into port.
A shop owner is rescued by members of the fire brigade from a flooded area of Macau on Sunday.

The storm is expected to be one for Hong Kong’s record books. It’s only the 15th time in the last 60 years that a storm has been classified as T10; the last was for Super Typhoon Hato last year.

On Saturday, it plowed into the Philippines, flattening homes in small towns and villages on the northern island of Luzon. The presidential spokesperson for Rodrigo Duterte told reporters Sunday that 40 people had died.

Harry Roque said most of the deaths were due to landslides and mainly occurred in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
The official death toll complied by the Philippines disaster agency still stands at zero as it instituted a stringent criteria for associating deaths with storms following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

The region braces

Hong Kong’s famed Victoria Harbor was hit with a storm surge of more than 3.9 meters (12.8 feet) above chart datum Sunday. Hong Kong’s famous skyline, filled with massive buildings jutting up from the hill, was almost completely obscured as squalls roared through, however visibility has since improved.
More than 550 flights have been canceled at airports in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, and more than 200 have been delayed, according to Flightaware.com. Most of Hong Kong’s public transport has been suspended.
Hong Kong authorities have been warning residents about the storm for days. On Saturday, grocery stores were packed with people stocking up on goods. Buildings across the city were either boarded up or had their windows taped in order to mitigate the damage of broken glass.
Other cities around the Pearl River Delta — which includes Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Macau — are on high alert.
Guangzhou, the capital and most populous city in Guangdong province, issued its highest typhoon emergency alert, according People’s Daily, a state-run media outlet. More than 100,000 people have been evacuated. Airports in Shenzhen, a technology hub across the border from Hong Kong, and on the resort island of Hainan have canceled all flights, according to Chinese state media.

Mangkhut slams into the Philippines

Mangkhut struck the northern Philippines as a super typhoon, causing flooding and landslides on the northern island of Luzon.
It made landfall in the Philippines Saturday at 1:40 a.m. local time, packing winds of up to 270 kph (165 mph), 120 kph (75 mph) stronger than Hurricane Florence that hit North Carolina.
Known locally as Ompong, Mangkhut ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees, blocked roads with debris and dumped water on fields of crops.
More than 250,000 people were affected by the storm across the country, with around half of those seeking shelter in evacuation centers in the country’s north.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte will head to the region Sunday to see the damage and recovery operations, presidential Palace Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told CNN.
The most severe damage came in Luzon’s north, a sparsely populated region that’s considered the breadbasket of the Philippines, though areas as far away as Manila — more than 340 km (200 miles) from the eye of the storm — were hit with heavy rains that caused flooding in urban areas.
As of Saturday, the storm had caused 51 landslides in the Philippines’ north. Search crews are looking for people reported missing in the mountainous Cordillera region, Political Affairs Secretary Francis Tolentino said.
Though the storm system has moved on, extent of the damage has been difficult to assess Sunday as fierce winds were replaced by flood waters, blocking access and aid to affected areas. A vital transportation hub in the region, Tuguegarao airport in northern Luzon, was damaged in the storms, according to the Department of Transportation, forcing the cancellation of more than 100 local and international flights.
Mangkhut is expected to make another landfall late Sunday night, hitting the Chinese province of Guangdong near the cities of Yangjiang and Zhanjiang.
From there the system will continue to move westward and will rain itself out over northern Vietnam, which could lead to some flooding there early next week.

Mom and 8-month-old found dead during Florence

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC NEWS)

 

North Carolina firefighters pray after mom and 8-month-old found dead during Florence

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Firefighters pray after mom and child found dead during Florence

A group of firefighters was captured spreading a bit of peace during a time of devastation.

Wilmington Fire Department were attempting to rescue a family after a tree fell on their home on Friday. Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 near Wilmington with winds of 90 mph.

Firefighters and rescue crews stopped to kneel and pray after they discovered the mother and her 8-month-old infant were killed by the fallen tree.

Fire officials say the mother, child and father were trapped inside the house for several hours before rescuers could reach them.

The father was transported to a hospital for treatment, according to the Associated Press.

There have been at least five deaths confirmed as a result of Hurricane Florence, which is now a tropical storm.

Related Topics:
hurricane florencefirefightersu.s. & worldfloodingtropical stormNorth Carolina

Hurricane Florence Targets Carolinas

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WEATHER CHANNEL)

 

Hurricane Florence Targets Carolinas, Appalachians With Potentially Catastrophic Flooding, Destructive Winds; Hurricane Warning Issued

By weather.com meteorologists

less than an hour ago

weather.com

At a Glance

  • Florence remains a dangerous Category 4 hurricane.
  • A strike on the Carolinas will occur late Thursday and into Friday.
  • Hurricane and storm surge warnings have been issued.
  • A life-threatening storm surge is expected with landfall.
  • Catastrophic inland flash flooding and major river flooding may result.
  • Tropical-storm-force winds may arrive as soon as Thursday morning.
  • Florence is also generating dangerous surf and rip currents along the East Coast.

Hurricane Florence will lash the Carolinas late Thursday and into Friday as an intense hurricane with life-threatening storm surge, destructive winds and potentially catastrophic inland rainfall flooding as one of the strongest strikes on record for this part of the U.S. East Coast.

“This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast,” the National Weather Service in Wilmington, North Carolina, wrote in its Tuesday evening area forecast discussion.

A hurricane warning and storm surge warning are now in effect from the South Santee River, South Carolina, northward to Duck, North Carolina, including the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. This includes Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Wilmington, North Carolina, and most of the Outer Banks.

Hurricane watches and storm surge watches remain posted north of Duck, North Carolina, to the border between North Carolina and Virginia, as well as from Edisto Beach, South Carolina, northward to the South Santee River, South Carolina. This includes Charleston, South Carolina.

Hurricane watches also extend to some extent inland in the Carolinas, including such cities as Goldsboro and Lumberton, North Carolina, with a hurricane warning posted for Kinston, North Carolina.

Tropical storm watches have been issued farther north, from the border between North Carolina and Virginia to Cape Charles Lighthouse, Virginia, as well as for the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort, Virginia. This includes Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Virginia.

image
Watches and Warnings

(A watch means hurricane or tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours. A warning means those conditions are expected within 36 hours.)

A hurricane warning means hurricane-force winds (74-plus mph) are expected somewhere within the warning area and is typically issued 36 hours ahead of the arrival of tropical-storm-force winds (39-plus mph), which could make last-minute preparations difficult.

A storm surge warning means there is a danger of life-threatening storm-surge inundation within the warning area during the next 36 hours from rising water moving inland from the coastline.

If you’re in the East Coast threat zone, it’s time to finish up your hurricane preparedness plan and be ready to implement if necessary. Residents in coastal areas should follow evacuation orders from local officials because of the potential for life-threatening storm-surge flooding.

(LATEST NEWS: Mandatory Evacuations Ordered)

Current Status

As of Tuesday night, Florence was centered more than 600 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving west-northwestward.

image
Current Storm Status

(The highest cloud tops, corresponding to the most vigorous convection, are shown in the brightest red colors. Clustering, deep convection around the center is a sign of a healthy tropical cyclone.)

Florence replaced its eyewall Tuesday morning, something that can happen multiple times in intense hurricanes. During this period, the hurricane may level off or weaken a tad but then gain strength as the outer eyewall contracts inward, replacing the old inner eyewall, leaving a larger core with, most importantly, a larger wind field.

Florence underwent rapid intensification Sunday into Monday, when its winds jumped up from 75 mph to 130 mph in just 25 hours ending 12 p.m. EDT Monday.

Some additional strengthening is possible, and it’s not out of the question that Florence could approach Category 5 status for a time by Wednesday.

Florence is generating swells that are affecting parts of the U.S. East Coast. Swells are also propagating to Bermuda and north- and northeastward-facing coasts of the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, Hispañiola, the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas.

These swells will produce life-threatening surf and rip current conditions at these beaches.

(MORE: Hurricane Central)

Track Forecast

Florence is being steered toward the coast of the Carolinas by a strong dome of high pressure aloft over the western Atlantic Ocean.

image
Projected Path

(The red-shaded area denotes the potential path of the center of the tropical cyclone. It’s important to note that impacts (particularly heavy rain, high surf, coastal flooding, winds) with any tropical cyclone usually spread beyond its forecast path.)

There remains some uncertainty where exactly the eye of Florence will make landfall late Thursday or on Friday, which will determine what part of the coastline experiences the worst wind and storm-surge impacts.

The National Hurricane Center is forecasting Florence to be a major hurricane, at least Category 3 intensity, when it arrives at or near the southeastern U.S. coast late Thursday or on Friday.

The hours leading up to landfall and the days after landfall have become a bit more uncertain. Recent forecast guidance has suggested Florence may turn a bit more westward and slow down considerably as it nears the Carolina coast.

That dome of high pressure aloft is expected to weaken, which may allow Florence to stall and meander near the coast or just inland of the coast. Here is what we know right now about Florence’s track timing. All of this is subject to change slightly, so check back for updates.

– Timing: The peak coastal impacts from Florence are expected late Thursday and into Friday, potentially into the weekend if a stall occurs near the coast. Tropical-storm-force winds are expected to first arrive Thursday morning along the southeastern U.S. coast in the general area of the forecast path. Impacts from Florence, particularly heavy rain, may continue into this weekend or early next week if it stalls out or moves erratically for a time, as suggested by some forecast guidance.

– Locations Potentially Affected: The Carolinas are at greatest risk for major impacts from Florence. Locations farther south, such as Georgia, and farther north into the mid-Atlantic should also monitor Florence for any forecast changes. The latest trends in computer models have brought more potential impacts to the central and southern Appalachians.

Likely U.S. Impacts

– Storm-Surge Impact: A destructive storm surge will accompany the eye coming ashore late Thursday or on Friday. It will be highest to the north or northeast of where the center comes ashore. Large, battering waves will ride atop this surge. All evacuation orders from local officials should be followed because of this dangerous threat. Significant beach erosion is also likely on the southeastern U.S. coast. Elevated water levels may persist for some time after landfall in areas where onshore winds persist.

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Storm Surge Watches and Warnings

Here are the latest storm-surge inundation forecasts from the National Hurricane Center if the eye of Florence arrives at high tide:

– Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, North Carolina, including the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo and Bay rivers: 9 to 13 feet
– North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to Cape Fear, North Carolina: 6 to 9 feet
– Cape Lookout, North Carolina, to Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina: 6 to 9 feet
– South Santee River, South Carolina, to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: 4 to 6 feet
– Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina, to the North Carolina/Virginia border: 4 to 6 feet
– Edisto Beach, South Carolina, to the South Santee River, South Carolina: 2 to 4 feet

(MORE: Past Storm Surges in the Carolinas)

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Storm-Surge Forecast

(From the National Hurricane Center.)

– Wind Impact: Tropical-storm-force winds (39-plus mph) are expected to arrive in the hurricane warning area Thursday morning. Hurricane-force winds (74-plus mph) may arrive by Thursday night or early Friday. Numerous downed trees and long-lasting power outages could occur near and inland from where the center of Florence strikes. This threat of tree damage and power outages may also extend across Florence’s larger swath of tropical-storm-force winds. Structural damage to homes and buildings is possible, particularly where the core of any hurricane-force winds moves through.

image
Tropical-Storm-Force Wind Probabilities

(Winds of 39 mph or greater are expected to begin at the times indicated in purple. Preparations should be completed 12 to 18 hours before this time.)

– Rainfall Impact: Florence will not only produce heavy rain along the coast, but also far inland across the Carolinas, mid-Atlantic and possibly other parts of the Southeast. That heavy rain threat may last for days if Florence stalls out into this weekend or early next week, as suggested by some forecast guidance. If that stall occurs, disastrous flooding could occur in some areas. See the link below for more information.

(MORE: Potentially Catastrophic Inland Flooding Possible)

According to the National Hurricane Center, Florence is expected to produce 15 to 25 inches of rain, with isolated totals to 35 inches, over parts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia through early next week.

image
Florence Rainfall Outlook

(This should be interpreted as a broad outlook of where the heaviest rain may fall and may shift based on the forecast path. Extreme amounts may occur where bands of rain stall over a period of several hours. )

The name Florence has been used for Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes since 1953. The destructive potential of this iteration could mean the name Florence may be retired from future use.

Check back with weather.com for updates on Florence’s forecast.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

Montserrat: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Tiny Caribbean Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Montserrat

Introduction English and Irish colonists from St. Kitts first settled on Montserrat in 1632; the first African slaves arrived three decades later. The British and French fought for possession of the island for most of the 18th century, but it finally was confirmed as a British possession in 1783. The island’s sugar plantation economy was converted to small farm landholdings in the mid 19th century. Much of this island was devastated and two-thirds of the population fled abroad because of the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano that began on 18 July 1995. Montserrat has endured volcanic activity since, with the last eruption occurring in July 2003.
History Montserrat was populated by Arawak and Carib people when it was claimed by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage for Spain in 1493, naming the island Santa María de Montserrate, after the Blessed Virgin of the Monastery of Montserrat, which is located on the Mountain of Montserrat, in Catalonia. The island fell under English control in 1632 when a group of Irish fleeing anti-Roman Catholic sentiment in Saint Kitts and Nevis settled there. The import of slaves, common to most Caribbean islands, mainly coming from West Africa, followed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and an economy based on sugar, rum, arrowroot and Sea Island cotton was established.

In 1782, during the American Revolutionary War, Montserrat was briefly captured by France. It was returned to the United Kingdom under the Treaty of Paris which ended that conflict. A failed slave uprising on 17 March 1798 led to Montserrat later becoming one of only four places in the world that celebrates St Patrick’s Day as a public or bank holiday (the others being the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador). Slavery was finally abolished in Montserrat in 1834, presumably as a result of the general emancipation of slaves within the British Empire in that same year.

Falling sugar prices during the nineteenth century had an adverse effect on the island’s economy and in 1869 the philanthropist Joseph Sturge of Birmingham formed the Montserrat Company to buy sugar estates that were no longer economically viable. The company planted limes starting production of the island’s famous lime juice, set up a school, and sold parcels of land to the inhabitants of the island, with the result that much of Montserrat came to be owned by smallholders.

From 1871 to 1958 Montserrat was administered as part of the Federal Colony of the Leeward Islands, becoming a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962.

With the completion of Beatles producer George Martin’s AIR Studios Montserrat in 1979, the island attracted world-famous musicians who came to record in the peace and quiet and lush tropical surroundings of Montserrat.[4] The last several years of the 20th century, however, brought two events which devastated the island.

In September 1989, Hurricane Hugo struck Montserrat with full force, damaging over 90 percent of the structures on the island. AIR Studios closed, and the tourist trade upon which the island depended was nearly wiped out. Within a few years, however, the island had recovered considerably—only to be struck again by disaster.

In July 1995, Montserrat’s Soufriere Hills volcano, dormant throughout recorded history, rumbled to life and began an eruption which eventually buried the island’s capital, Plymouth, in more than 40 feet (12 m) (12 m) of mud, destroyed its airport and docking facilities, and rendered the southern half of the island uninhabitable. This forced more than half of the population to flee the island because they lacked housing. After a period of regular eruptive events during the late 1990s including one on June 25, 1997 in which 19 people lost their lives, the volcano’s activity in recent years has been confined mostly to infrequent ventings of ash into the uninhabited areas in the south. However, this ash venting does occasionally extend into the populated areas of the northern and western parts of the island. As an example, on May 20, 2006, the lava dome that had been slowly building collapsed, resulting in an ashfall of about an inch (2.5 cm) in Old Towne and parts of Olveston. There were no injuries or significant property damage.

Long referred to as “The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean” for both its Irish heritage and its resemblance to coastal Ireland, Montserrat today remains lush and green. A new airport, opened officially by the Princess Royal Princess Anne in February 2005, received its first commercial flights on July 11, 2005, and docking facilities are in place at Little Bay where a new capital is being constructed out of reach of any further volcanic activity.

The people of Montserrat were granted full residency rights in the United Kingdom in 1998, and citizenship was granted in 2002.

Geography Location: Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, southeast of Puerto Rico
Geographic coordinates: 16 45 N, 62 12 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 102 sq km
land: 102 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: about 0.6 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 40 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; little daily or seasonal temperature variation
Terrain: volcanic island, mostly mountainous, with small coastal lowland
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: lava dome in English’s Crater (in the Soufriere Hills volcanic complex) estimated at over 930 m (2006)
Natural resources: NEGL
Land use: arable land: 20%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 80% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: severe hurricanes (June to November); volcanic eruptions (Soufriere Hills volcano has erupted continuously since 1995)
Environment – current issues: land erosion occurs on slopes that have been cleared for cultivation
Geography – note: the island is entirely volcanic in origin and comprised of three major volcanic centers of differing ages
Famous Montserratians Alphonsus “Arrow” Cassell, MBE born in Montserrat is well known for his soca song “Hot Hot Hot” which has sold over 4 million copies.
Shabazz Baidoo—A football player of Montserrat descent, plays in Football League 2 for Dagenham & Redbridge.
Tesfaye Bramble—A football player, currently unattached, but who most recently played in the Conference National in England for Stevenage Borough.
Junior Mendes—A professional footballer who has represented Montserrat twice in international games, currently playing for Aldershot Town in the Conference National League.
Jim Allen—A former cricketer who represented the World Series Cricket West Indians.
People Population: 9,638
note: an estimated 8,000 refugees left the island following the resumption of volcanic activity in July 1995; some have returned (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23.5% (male 1,159/female 1,108)
15-64 years: 65.9% (male 3,027/female 3,323)
65 years and over: 10.6% (male 521/female 500) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 29.7 years
male: 29.3 years
female: 30.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.038% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 17.33 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.95 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.04 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 6.86 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.71 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.15 years
male: 76.93 years
female: 81.47 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.76 children born/woman (2008 est.)

THE SLOW RECOVERY IN PUERTO RICO

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SMITHSONIAN)

 

THE SLOW RECOVERY IN PUERTO RICO

As the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria approaches, Puerto Ricans feel not only devastated but abandoned

A home on the storm-battered southeastern coast. The words on the sign, “Yo voy a ti PR,” translate roughly to “I’m rooting for you, Puerto Rico!” (Erika P. Rodríguez)

45SHARES

I didn’t leave Puerto Rico until I was 20. I was traveling to Europe with my college theater group when an immigration official in Spain said, “Oh, you’re American.” I tried to tell them, “Yes—but no.” I tried to explain that I am an American citizen in a place that “belongs to…but is not a part of” the United States, according to the Supreme Court’s definition of an unincorporated territory.

Later that year, I had the opposite experience when I transferred to a photography school in Ventura, California. I was the only Puerto Rican in my class and I felt very much like a foreigner. Our culture is a mixture of European, African and Taíno Indian. We’re very warm and outgoing. I had to adapt to a very different chemistry with the other students in California. Some of my closer friends there were Mexican, but I had to use a more neutral Spanish when I spoke to them, without all my Caribbean slang. When I’d call home, my cousin would ask, “Why are you speaking so strangely?” I’d say, “I can’t speak Puerto Rican here!”

Once we graduated, my Latin American friends had to leave the country. That was strange for me—that they couldn’t stay and I could. Yet I knew the history of Puerto Rico and what that advantage had cost us.

In 1898, Puerto Rico was acquired by the United States as a “spoil” of the Spanish-American War along with Guam and the Philippines. Until 1948, all our governors were appointed by the U.S. government. Until 1957, our patriotic songs and other expressions of nationalism were outlawed. Even today, our government exists under the discretion of Congress—though we do not have a voting representative in that body. Since 1967, there have been five referendums in Puerto Rico on statehood, independence or maintaining the commonwealth, but all have been nonbinding.

So we exist in a confusing, kind of gray realm. We use U.S. dollars and U.S. postage stamps. We serve in the U.S. military and our borders are monitored by U.S. Customs. In my California student days, I’d give my phone number to friends and they would ask if it was an international call. I had to check with my telephone company to find out (it isn’t). That’s Puerto Rico.

image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/91/66/91665e4d-b004-4e3c-ae99-76a17a008824/kulaug2018_m12_photorodriguez.jpg

A statue of the Virgin Mary

A statue of the Virgin Mary in Toa Baja, on Puerto Rico’s northern coast. The area flooded hours after Hurricane Maria made landfall, when the government opened a nearby dam. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/13/b8/13b804da-6bdf-4ec7-840e-c760a4a6f905/kulaug2018_m03_photorodriguez.jpg

cultural center in Cayey

A flag hangs from the balcony at a cultural center in Cayey, during a performance of troubadour music. The sky blue in this flag is associated with the movement for an independent Puerto Rico. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/9b/91/9b91f5b7-af8f-4e6c-ad22-69c8287f34e0/kulaug2018_m11_photorodriguez.jpg

Workers clean a business that flooded in Toa Baja, on Puerto Rico’s northern coast.

Workers clean a business that flooded in Toa Baja, on Puerto Rico’s northern coast. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/ff/52/ff526ed7-d2f2-4960-b7d7-cacd47dd7085/kulaug2018_m06_photorodriguez.jpg

Bags of supplies

Bags of supplies wait to be distributed to families in Utuado. The Coca-Cola Puerto Rico Bottlers used their own trucks to deliver the supplies. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/b2/39/b2397683-a654-4c5d-b9d1-3030f8ff21ee/kulaug2018_m07_photorodriguez.jpg

A Puerto Rican flag

A Puerto Rican flag is painted on the living room wall of a home without power. The bedrooms are uninhabitable so the entire family has been sleeping in this room. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://thumbs-prod.si-cdn.com/yJkdeXkMXs61m6ALD94DYGd7fHM=/fit-in/1072×0/https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/96/aa/96aa840d-0798-4848-b1cf-153ea4d65977/1_20171013_0117.jpg

A view of the Panoramic Route in San Lorenzo weeks after the storm. The route crosses the island east to west through the mountainous region, offering beautiful views. (Erika P. Rodríguez)

I’ve been documenting this ambiguity for the past six years, starting with an internship at a Puerto Rican newspaper. I began photographing everyday moments: a salsa class at a bar, Mother’s Day with my family, festivals and political events. I could be at a rally, where everyone was shouting. But the best photo would be the one where a woman holding a sign was looking down and being introspective. You could feel her withdrawing into her own thoughts.

After Hurricane Maria ravaged everything in its path last year, there was a sense of unity among people of the archipelago. Under complete darkness, without sufficient fuel, water or food, and largely without communications, our sense of community changed. It was visible in the young neighbor who collected and distributed water for months after the storm, and in the person with a power generator who would provide electricity to other families through extension cords crossing from one home to another. It was visible in the neighbors who cooked together on the only working gas stove on their street. Tension and despair were real, but a new solidarity emerged.

image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/82/35/823557a5-24ae-4c00-bed9-6ead0060b496/kulaug2018_m09_photorodriguez.jpg

a girl in the mountainous central city of Utuado

A few weeks after Maria, a girl in the mountainous central city of Utuado walked toward what used to be her home. A small creek nearby overflowed during the storm, eroding the road and pushing debris through the walls. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://thumbs-prod.si-cdn.com/yp58zinbKh_239dPEM2_GoX8E4I=/fit-in/600×0/https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/da/3c/da3c95d8-b08b-434e-8d97-ae468fb6ca88/kulaug2018_m01_photorodriguez.jpg

A touristy area of San Juan, the day after Maria snapped a palm trunk in two in Condado.

A touristy area of San Juan, the day after Maria snapped a palm trunk in two in Condado. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
In Aibonito, a mountain town, a picture of Jesus sat in a pile of debris, still partially buried by dirt, a few weeks after the storm.(Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://thumbs-prod.si-cdn.com/jyp_YptzjVbaGB7_-eIHWuSg_6s=/fit-in/600×0/https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/08/f0/08f0c70a-6313-4b72-a0d6-63824c6d8db5/kulaug2018_m10_photorodriguez.jpg

picture of Jesus

image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/9c/9e/9c9e4214-6976-4b4f-a055-7f442d0bb115/_opener_20150722_0049.jpg

A little girl named Brenda flies a kite at El Morro fort by San Juan Harbor.

A little girl named Brenda flies a kite at El Morro fort by San Juan Harbor. (Erika P. Rodríguez)

Over a week after the storm, I spotted a Puerto Rican flag flapping on the side of a fuel truck. More soon appeared on car antennas, storefronts, home balconies, highway bridges and street corners. Our flag, once illegal, could now be seen all over the island. It was a message: “We are here and we are standing.”

But we’re still dealing with the aftermath. In San Juan, where I live, I regularly still see broken electrical posts, missing traffic lights and blue plastic tarps covering damaged rooftops. The power still goes out short term. Things are much worse in the mountain town of Utuado. Communities there have been without power since the hurricane, unable to store food in their refrigerators, and many roads remain exactly as they were back in September. Electrical cables hang overhead and vegetation now grows in the mudslides that cover entire lanes.

The phrase “Se fue pa’ afuera”—literally, “he went outside”—is an expression for a Puerto Rican who has left the island on a one-way flight. It has become far too common. I’ve been to many tearful goodbye parties. My sister left for Chicago and has no desire to ever return; I was introduced to my newborn godson over Skype. I continue to see friends find better possibilities outside.

image: https://thumbs-prod.si-cdn.com/r0oMcerT7lU4uvRsVIbMruU9odI=/fit-in/1072×0/https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/4f/1d/4f1d455b-f73f-4820-a1e0-59e62f3cf71e/01_epr_01_recent_paid_1_osf.jpg

The Puerto Rican flag at a memorial for two independence activists killed in a police ambush in 1978 at Cerro Maravilla. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/44/ad/44ad0e28-868c-4250-bd21-9649178dd65a/kulaug2018_m13_photorodriguez.jpg

residents and public workers

The day after the hurricane, residents and public workers navigated flooded streets to rescue people.(Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/c4/b4/c4b4113e-92fd-4e8f-aec0-89216a1c8f9c/kulaug2018_m04_photorodriguez.jpg

Police walk in formation

Police walk in formation as demonstrators protest planned austerity measures. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/99/98/9998e9d4-fba7-484a-b50c-29967da75b2f/kulaug2018_m05_photorodriguez.jpg

A woman holds a sign

A woman holds a sign that says “A crime called education.” The University of Puerto Rico had announced plans to increase its tuition and possibly close six of its 11 campuses. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/32/af/32afb6eb-5b45-4acb-8922-87f278a3cda9/kulaug2018_m02_photorodriguez.jpg

A woman hangs a solar lamp

A woman hangs a solar lamp in her living room. Eight months after the storm, her home was still without power. Her husband, who suffers from sleep apnea, couldn’t use his air pump at night. (Erika P. Rodríguez)

We won’t know until the 2020 census how many people have already left. Since the beginning of the recession in 2006, Puerto Rico has lost around 635,000 residents, and another half million are expected to leave by next year.

As a young Puerto Rican, I’m unsure what lies ahead. That’s why I want to stay and continue documenting our complex dual identity. I want to photograph Puerto Rico as we rebuild, or fall apart. I just can’t look away. There’s no room in my mind or heart for anything else.

About The Author: Erika P. Rodriguez is a photographer based in Puerto Rico. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post and The New York TimesRead More articles from Erika P. Rodriguez

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/puertorico_photo-essay-slow-recoery-180969346/#0ucBmooO5VMSslE1.99
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Hurricane Maria: The Forgotten Dying People Of Puerto Rico

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

‘We are the forgotten people’: It’s been almost six months since Hurricane Maria, and Puerto Ricans are still dying

Updated 10:32 PM ET, Thu March 15, 2018

Maunabo, Puerto Rico (CNN)Lourdes Rodriguez heard the scream early on the morning of January 6, before the sun rose and before the frogs began their chorus.

“Lourdes! Lourdes!”
She instantly recognized the voice of her father, Natalio Rodriguez Lebron, 77, a former nurse who cared for the mentally ill, people he believed society had forgotten.
She darted up the stairs.
Her father’s health had long been troubled. He had diabetes, lung disease, sleep apnea and congestive heart failure. And in the months since Hurricane Maria battered this coastal town, Lourdes watched his condition worsen. The sleep apnea machine he needed to help him breathe was useless for months because their hilltop neighborhood in Maunabo was entirely without electric power. In December, a business had donated a generator to power the machine at night, but the family struggled to afford the gasoline needed to keep it running.
As Lourdes reached the top of the stairs, she felt an uneasy stillness in the air. The sky was thick and black. No moon was visible. And the electric generator, a machine that sometimes rumbled like a car engine, had fallen eerily silent.
She swung open the living room door to find her father clutching his chest.
The machine was off. Her father appeared unable to breathe.
Natalio Rodriguez Lebron, center, is shown with his family.

Her mother, Julia “Miriam” Rodriguez, stayed with Natalio while Lourdes rushed to restart the generator, which had run out of gas, and repower the breathing machine. Her mother felt Natalio’s body go limp in her arms and then collapse to the floor, face down.
Frantic, they called 911 and tried to comfort him.
Waiting there on the floor, Julia Rodriguez told me, she felt a wind — a physical gust — leave her husband’s body and pass into her own. She said it was as if the decades they’d spent together — the moves from Puerto Rico to the mainland and back; the hours they both worked as nurses; the three children they raised — hovered in the room, a tangible, living thing, and then became part of her.
Julia Rodriguez knew then that her husband might not survive.
All these months later, it seemed the storm may have won.

* * * * *

It’s been nearly six months since Hurricane Maria.
Its howling winds, which topped 150 mph, long have dissipated. The storm that battered Puerto Rico on September 20 before hooking northward into the Atlantic is a memory.
Yet, in this US commonwealth, people are still dying in Maria’s wake.
That’s especially true of those who lack basic services like electricity.
Rodriguez died on January 6. In addition to his death, CNN identified five people who died in 2018 from causes that friends, family, doctors or funeral home directors consider to be related to Hurricane Maria and its aftermath.
It’s not possible to say with 100% certainty that a death this long after a storm was “caused” by Hurricane Maria, experts told me. But that’s beside the point. These deaths show dangerous conditions persist in Puerto Rico.
I spent several days in Maunabo, Rodriguez’s town on the southeast coast, and other areas without power, to try to understand how communities are faring all these months later.
Maunabo, Puerto Rico, is still off the grid almost six months after Maria, the mayor tells CNN.

I had been to Puerto Rico several times since the storm, reporting for CNN on topics from uncounted deaths to water outages and an “exodus” to the US mainland. In December, I drove the entire path the eye of the storm took across the island. On that route, I met a woman whose clock was stopped at 3:27 — the moment the hurricane swept through. Puerto Rico, it seemed, was an island frozen in time, doomed to relive that day again and again.
Would that still be the case after six months?
Metrics on the response to Hurricane Maria told me that might be the case, at least for some residents. So, too, did academics and others who study how we respond to hurricanes.
Puerto Rico, some of these experts said, appears to be stuck between the “emergency” and “recovery” phases of disaster response. Typically, in the United States, the emergency phase — in which people lack necessities like food, water, shelter and power — lasts for days or, at most, a few weeks, said Lori Peek, director of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder. Then comes recovery, when residents, government agencies and others start to rebuild.
“Here we are months after this storm and we are debating if we should still be sending these emergency — really emergency, and life sustaining — supports, or (should we) transition into this recovery process,” Peek said. “That is just truly breathtaking.”
It’s true that progress has been made. Tourists are coming back to San Juan, and parts of the city are humming. Casinos are open in ritzy Condado and the bomba dancers are back in Río Piedras. A month after Maria, roughly 1 million of the 3.3 million American citizens here remained without running water service. Now, nearly everyone has it.
In late December, only about a third of temporary roof requests had been met by the US Army Corps of Engineers, leaving some people sleeping in homes where it rained inside at night. Months later, nearly all those requests for professionally installed tarps have been fulfilled. Formal shelters for hurricane victims are now empty, according to federal officials.
Yet inequities remain, especially when it comes to electricity.
As of March 7, more than 10% of electric customers in Puerto Rico were still without power, according to figures reported to the US Department of Energy by the local utility. Maybe that sounds small — but it represents nearly 156,000 customers, and likely more than that number of people, since the average Puerto Rican household is about three individuals.
Also consider that figure in the context of other recent storms.
Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast of Texas on August 25. The next day, an estimated 304,000 customers were without power — yet all but about 2,600 had electricity restored in 19 days, according to data provided to CNN by the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Florida after Hurricane Irma? That storm left an estimated 6.2 million customers in Florida without electricity on September 11, according to the Florida Public Service Commission, which, like the commission in Texas, collects data from electric utilities. In a little more than two weeks, virtually all power was back.
These comparisons are, of course, imprecise. No two storms are the same in terms of intensity, needs or geography. Puerto Rico is an island and, as federal officials have said repeatedly since the storm, you can’t just drive in supplies from another state. Communications systems were down and many roads were impassible in the first weeks after the storm. The island’s power grid also was in lousy shape, by many accounts, before Hurricane Maria. Comparing that grid to Florida’s, which is the gold standard for preparedness, is somewhat unfair, said Seth Guikema, an associate professor of engineering at the University of Michigan, who studies grids and disaster response. After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, he said, some Florida utilities built concrete posts and took other measures to ensure power could be restored faster after storms.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, which oversees disaster recovery, says it is doing everything possible to ensure basic services are restored to Puerto Rico.
Michael Byrne, FEMA’s federal coordinating officer for Puerto Rico, told me in an interview that Puerto Rico’s unique logistical challenges fully explain the delays. No other US disaster has presented these unique and difficult circumstances, he said, which meant FEMA had to invent a strategy for how to respond to the crisis. The unique situation here also makes comparisons between the response to Maria and responses to other storms problematic, he said.
If storm-related deaths are continuing, he said, his heart goes out to affected families. “The initial reaction is the reaction anyone would have: I’m sorry to hear that. Truly. One of the things that you don’t stop being, no matter your job, is a human being.” There are programs, he added, to help bring generators and financial assistance to storm victims, especially those who are in vital need of medical services.
The US Army Corps and FEMA say logistical issues -- including Puerto Rico's remote location -- explain power-restoration delays.

In a statement emailed to CNN this week, the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is helping with power restoration, said back-to-back 2017 disasters, the remoteness of the island and the fact that some supplies had to be manufactured for installation in Puerto Rico, slowed down work on the electric system. “Helicopters have been used to airlift poles, materials and people into remote locations to perform repair work,” the Corps said.
Yet these explanations matter little to many of those who have been living without electricity for nearly six months, and have gone without running water for much of that time.
They know another truth: The longer the wait, the more a person is at risk.

* * * * *

The family legend goes like this: The first of Natalio Rodriguez’s ancestors to arrive in Maunabo was hidden in a barrel aboard a ship from Africa. He may have arrived as a free man, they said. This much is sure: Rodriguez roots travel deep into this fertile soil. The family has been here as long as anyone can remember.
By the time Natalio Rodriguez was born in December 1940, the 11th of 12 children, much had changed in Puerto Rico — and yet little had, as well. Rodriguez grew up helping his father, Juan Ines Rodriguez Monclova, work the verdant sugar cane fields behind their home on the side of a shark-tooth mountain. This was the work of his ancestors, too. The Spanish enslaved Africans and, before that, indigenous Taino people — who gave Maunabo its name — to work in that industry.
Natalio Rodriguez and his neighbors had all those stories coursing through their veins. His original ancestor in Maunabo is said to have married a Spanish woman, which is how relatives explain the fact that some of their cousins and aunts have bright blue or green eyes, while Natalio’s and Lourdes’ eyes and skin carry the deep hues of espresso and midnight.
Lourdes Rodriguez, right, with her two children and mother, Julia &quot;Miriam&quot; Rodriguez.

When Rodriguez was a boy, slavery had long been abolished, of course; and the Spanish had been kicked out of Puerto Rico by a new colonial power: the United States. The US, which occupied Puerto Rico in 1898 after the Spanish-American War, granted Puerto Ricans citizenship about two decades before Rodriguez’s birth. Still, his family members and neighbors couldn’t elect their own governor until 1948. Even today, Puerto Ricans, while subject to US laws and given US aid, can’t vote for president or elect full, voting members of Congress.
Despite all that, young Rodriguez remained enchanted by American culture.
He loved Western movies and books and grew up galloping the family’s horses down from the mountains and into the valley, which was home to the town square, not far from a lighthouse and the radiant turquoise coast. His childhood nickname was “Hormiguero,” Spanish for anthill, his longtime friend, Damian Lopez, 70, told me. I laughed and asked about the origin of that name. The kid was something of a living verb, Lopez said — always moving, never still.
That restlessness would take him places his father never saw.
Some of Rodriguez’s older brothers enlisted in the US military (one lost part of his hand in the Korean War, according to Julia Rodriguez) and, as a teenager, Natalio Rodriguez tried to do the same. Unable to join the service because of a heart arrhythmia, according to his wife, he found other ways to follow in their footsteps. After one brother moved to New York — bringing home exotic northeastern foods like cod, cherries and white grapes to a family that grew avocado, grapefruit and oranges — Rodriguez decided, after high school, to move there, too. He would become a big man like his dad — 5-foot-9 and 300 pounds — and not averse to physical labor. But he began to resent helping in the sugar fields. Maunabo was, and is, desperately poor. (Fifty-six percent live below the poverty line, according to the US Census Bureau). Some of his relatives still plowed up their fields with bulls tied to oxcarts. The brother who moved away seemed so much happier, and so much richer. In the United States, Rodriguez thought, he’d have a better life, too.
So, in his late teens, Rodriguez boarded a plane for New York.
“Right after getting out of the cab, he stepped on a pile of dog s—.”
Natalio loved to tell this story, his wife, Julia, said.
“He’d go, like, ‘Wow, so this is how you all live here, dodging piles of poop in the streets!?'”
Maunabo, located in southeast Puerto Rico, is home to 11,500 people.

Julia Rodriguez grew up in Maunabo, too, just up the hill from Natalio and his family. The couple raised three children together, primarily on the US mainland.
For him, the 50 states were a place of promise and of hope — a place of purpose and duty.
Still, strangely, that first New York impression — the muck on the street — stuck with him, too.
He never felt fully settled, his wife told me.
He yearned for home.
In 2009, he and Julia finally resettled in Maunabo.

* * * * *

“Look,” says Luis Lafuente, Maunabo’s vice-mayor.
He points at a perfectly circular hole extending from the roof of city hall.
“That’s where the clock used to be.”
It was busted by Hurricane Maria.
Crabbing and fishing are popular in Maunabo. The town hosts an annual crab festival.

Time hasn’t just stopped in this town, which is at the southeast corner of Puerto Rico, near where Maria delivered its first punches. After the storm, it’s almost irrelevant. On this day, March 9, Lafuente tells me exactly 0% of the area’s 11,500 residents have been reconnected to the electric grid — the same as the day Hurricane Maria struck. Between 35% and 50% of residents do have electricity, he said, from three emergency generators installed on December 23 by the US government. But those generators are prone to failure, he said, and don’t reach mountain communities. (The Army Corps said the alleged “failures” result from generator switch-overs, not from problems with the equipment. The Puerto Rican power authority — PREPA — told CNN 37% of customers in Maunabo had power as of March 13, but did not specify the source of that electricity.)
At dusk, those mountains turn to charcoal silhouettes. Few lights shine. Only the lucky and the wealthy can afford personal generators.
We drive Lafuente’s Jeep Renegade around the town where he’s spent his life. Parts of it are unrecognizable to him. Playgrounds are twisted. A truck barn turned to scrap metal. Power lines are draped over posts like wet noodles. Some electric posts are so off-kilter, they look like they’re doing pushups.
The hospital had to be relocated to another municipal building, which most recently had been home to emergency management workers and police. Those officers and workers, in turn, had to move into a public school that closed before the storm. The hospital still has a sign that says “Emergencia 24 Horas,” indicating the emergency room never closes. The reconfigured hospital, however, opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m. Many of those who require emergency assistance earlier or later than that have to drive through an unlit mountain tunnel — it feels like something out of “The Walking Dead” — to seek medical help.
Maunabo’s five schools reopened in late November. But students leave class at 12:30 p.m. because there’s no power. A school principal I met told me she drives to other towns to make photocopies so students can take tests. Teachers assign very little homework, she says, because the students are so overwhelmed already.
We stop by the lighthouse, perhaps the most iconic site in Maunabo, to find that its searchlight and glass have been shattered by Maria. The Coast Guard hadn’t used it since the 1990s, anyway, according to Wanda Marín Rivera, board president of the town’s cultural center. But Lafuente and others had hoped tourism might revive the town, with the lighthouse as a destination, since sugar cane, plantains and crab fishing haven’t been providing stable work. (Maunabo became known as a hub for crab fishing. Crab images are stamped into the sidewalks and painted on walls; a crab statue sits in front of the baseball stadium, which was heavily damaged, and a smaller one perches on the mayor’s desk).
Despite the state of things, Lafuente says Maunabo will improve. Tourists will come. Industry will pick back up. Already, he says, crabbers are setting traps by flashlight at night.
“The people of Maunabo are very motivated and anxious to grow and make the town even better than it was before,” he tells me. “We will rise again. We are rising.”

* * * * *

At first, the mountain protected them.
The day Maria hit, Natalio Rodriguez huddled in a small bathroom with his wife, his daughter Lourdes, her two children, and, nearby, Natalio’s elderly sister. “We were crammed like tuna in a can,” Lourdes Rodriguez recalled. Water poured under the door. Natalio told everyone to stay calm, Lourdes told me. Meanwhile, she said, the house “shook like Jell-O.”
Still, they survived. Most of the house did, too. The hillside, which had raised so many of their ancestors and grown so many of their crops, sheltered them from the worst of it.
Julia Rodriguez has been without electric power service since Maria hit on September 20.

It was after Maria that the real danger began.
The power was out. Water, too. Food was scarce. For several days, the winding, steep-pitched road to their mountain home was blocked, Lourdes said. It was a week before she was able to wait in hourslong lines for gasoline and get her car to a hill in a neighboring city, Caguas, where she could call their many relatives on the mainland to say they had outlasted the hurricane. Communications systems in Maunabo remained essentially inoperable for months, she told me. Island-wide, according to Puerto Rico government data, only 25% of cell towers were functional by October 20.
It was in these isolated circumstances that Natalio Rodriguez’s medical conditions began to worsen. The labored breathing was especially troubling for his wife and daughter. The sleep apnea machine he used at night to get oxygen into his lungs wasn’t working without electricity. That meant he and his wife could not rest, much less sleep. He paced the house at night and walked the neighborhood by day. In desperation, the family made cardboard fans for him to use to try to move air around his face. No one thought it would help him breathe, really, but it was something.
“All of a sudden he became a quiet person. He was a talker. Pepito enjoyed long conversations,” Julia Rodriguez said, using Natalio’s family nickname. “He could spend hours and hours talking. But then (after the storm) he didn’t speak much.”
The family worried also about the insulin he used for diabetes. It required refrigeration. They had no working refrigerator without power. And ice was difficult to come by.
What they really needed, of course, was electricity.
On November 17, Maunabo plaza and city hall got power from a small generator — purchased for $35,000 by the municipality, according to the mayor, Jorge Márquez. From their home in the mountains, Lourdes Rodriguez said, the family could see a faint glow. It looked like the town downhill was on another planet.
About a month later, the family received a small power inverter, Lourdes Rodriguez said. It ran for only two or three hours before running out of fuel, she said.
A bigger generator was donated later, but the family had trouble affording the gasoline needed to run it, she told me. The fuel alone cost them $60 per week while her father was alive, Lourdes Rodriguez said. Plus, there were filters, oil and repairs.
When the machine was on, they said, Natalio calmed some.
But they could not keep it going.

* * * * *

Some of them died during the storm.
A mudslide in Utuado, Puerto Rico, killed two “bedridden” sisters. Another person drowned in Toa Baja. But the aftermath of Hurricane Maria appears to have been most deadly.
Hurricane debris is piled up at a temporary dump in March in Maunabo.

More than 1,000 “excess deaths” occurred after the storm, in September and October 2017, than during the same timeframe in 2016 and 2015, according to Alexis Santos, a professor at Penn State University who analyzed Puerto Rican government mortality statistics.
That doesn’t tell you 1,000 people certainly died directly because of Hurricane Maria. But it does indicate an unusual number of people were dying — and well into October.
The only difference, Santos said, was the hurricane.
In November, I put together a CNN team to survey the funeral homes in Puerto Rico. We were only able to reach about half, but those directors and other staff members told us they had seen at least 499 deaths they considered to be hurricane related, based primarily on their conversations with family members. We then documented the deaths of several uncounted people who died in the weeks after the hurricane, not only the day the storm hit. They included an older man in Cayey who died in a fire set by a lantern he wouldn’t have been using if he’d had electricity; a man in Canóvanas who committed suicide in the storm’s aftermath; and a woman in Corozal who lacked access to medical treatment. (Two deaths we highlighted were later added to the Puerto Rico government’s list of official hurricane-related deaths).
Still, I didn’t expect deaths would continue into 2018.
It’s impossible to use statistics to prove that they are, because the Puerto Rican Demographic Registry has not released data for this year. (CNN and Puerto Rico’s Centro de Periodismo Investigativo are suing that agency for access to death records). Trends suggest the aggregate loss of life in Puerto Rico is slowing and may have normalized, Santos told me.
Still, I was able to document several deaths that occurred this year and appear related to Maria’s frantic aftermath.
Several of the deaths I researched occurred in Maunabo.
Braulio Salinas Santiago, 71, died of an apparent heart attack in the parking lot of Maunabo’s makeshift hospital on January 18, according to his wife, Margarita Baerga Diaz. It was about 5 a.m., she said, before the hospital, which operated 24-7 before the hurricane, had opened.
Similarly, Fulgencio Velazquez Chevalier died on February 20 in the car of his wife, Litza Rodriguez Figueroa. The 50-year-old suffered depression and intense anxiety after the storm, according to Rodriguez Figueroa, who is a nurse. She believes that stress, along with a related increased smoking, contributed to her husband’s cardiac arrest. When she drove by the closed Maunabo hospital, she told me, Velazquez was still alive.
Carmen Rodriguez Martinez died on January 25 at age 71.
Her doctor, Arturo Torres Borges, wrote two words on the death certificate in a spot reserved for circumstances that may have contributed to the death: “Huracán Maria.”
The causes of death included respiratory failure and heart disease.
Héctor Pedraza, left, lost his mother -- Herminio Trinidad's wife -- when she died in February in the aftermath of Maria.

Rodriguez Martinez required an oxygen machine to breathe, according to her daughter, Iris Janette de Jesus Rodriguez, 54. They still didn’t have electricity from the grid when I visited in late February. A generator hadn’t been enough, she said.
In Corozal, farther into the mountains, Victor Manuel Belen Santiago wept as he told me that his mother, Zoraida Santiago Torres, 58, had saved his life by helping him kick drug addiction.
Their home was destroyed by the storm, and Belen Santiago rebuilt it by hand, puzzling scraps of the roof and walls together like a reassembled house of cards. But he couldn’t restore the power his mother needed to run an oxygen machine. She died on February 13, he said, after getting fluid in her lungs that could not be cleared. Her death certificate lists organ failure and a bacterial infection among the causes of death, along with chronic liver disease.
After the loss, Belen Santiago said he contemplated suicide.
His beloved mother was gone. He had no job — no prospect for a job after the debt crisis, which struck Puerto Rico before the hurricane. It was unclear if life ever would feel safe again.
“We are the forgotten people,” he said. “It’s like we don’t exist.”

* * * * *

The morning of January 5 started like so many others, with a tap-tap-tap of her father’s cane on the second-story patio — Natalio Rodriguez’s way of waking his daughter up for the day.
Lourdes Rodriguez rolled her eyes playfully and walked upstairs to see what he wanted this time. She and her two children, ages 13 and 8, had been sleeping on twin beds in a room downstairs since the storm. The roof of a new home they had been building was torn off by Maria.
She would awake to her father’s screams the following night, but this day now occupies a different territory in her memory. She considers it one of the best days of her life.
Her father seemed so healthy, so alive.
He wanted to go everywhere that day, see everything. He carried his cane with him while visiting his sister, a nun, in Ponce, a city on the south coast. But he kept it in his elbow crease — more ornament than crutch. At an ice cream shop, he pretended to be a clueless American tourist — using affected Spanish, asking to see tourist attractions on the other side of the island. The store’s workers laughed when he broke the gag, Lourdes Rodriguez said. He ordered his favorite flavor: passion fruit with pineapple. That night, they ate seafood at a restaurant near the beach.
In March, power lines were still twisted and broken in southeastern Puerto Rico.

Now, Lourdes Rodriguez wonders why that day was different.
Maybe it was the upcoming holiday? January 6 is Three Kings Day in Puerto Rico, or Epiphany, when Christians commemorate the arrival of wise men visiting the infant Jesus.
Her father had been talking about it for some time, telling her children to prepare their best clothes (the truth was that most of their clothing had been donated after the storm) so they could go to a pig roast in a neighboring community. In years past, they’d gathered up guitars, pots and sticks and gone caroling up and down the hillside — a Puerto Rican parranda — growing the party as they visited one house and then the next, offering food and drinks and collecting stories.
Maybe he was living in anticipation of that day?
Or maybe this day was his way of saying goodbye.

* * * * *

What’s taking so long?
That question nagged at me as I reported on Puerto Rico’s ongoing electrical outages. And it’s a question that clearly haunts many Puerto Ricans.
Experts offered some theories.
“They’re Americans but they’re not represented in Congress,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University in New York. That means there are few political repercussions for a botched disaster response, he said, and few advocates for funding. “It really gets down to money and poverty and politics.”
“It’s unconscionable and unreasonable that it has taken so long” to restore power, he said. “You have to ask yourself, ‘why is that?’ It’s money and politics, the common denominator for so many things. … Can you imagine no (electric) power in Beaumont or Port Arthur or Rockport, Texas, for this amount of time? I don’t care what kind of disaster it was. You would never see this.”
Byrne, the FEMA official, said this disaster has been adequately funded and the federal government is responding to the crisis in Puerto Rico in the same way it would in the 50 states. “We’re not leaving,” he said. “We’re here until we take care of all of the requirements that are needed.”
As of March 15, FEMA had spent $1.1 billion in Puerto Rico; $1.6 billion in Texas; and $993 million in Florida for individual assistance following the fall 2017 hurricanes. “That’s the initial, quickest payment to individual citizens for immediate needs, but the real cost is in long-term recovery dollars for infrastructure projects, like buildings, roads and other public facilities,” which is not included in those figures, said Chris Currie, director of emergency management issues at the US Government Accountability Office.
Congressional appropriations for disaster response and recovery in recent months are not always itemized by storm, he said, making it difficult to say which hurricanes ultimately will be given the most federal funding. An estimated $23.2 billion has been appropriated specifically for Puerto Rico, according to The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates Maria caused $90 billion in damages; Harvey, $125 billion; and Irma, $50 billion.
Regardless of financing, the relative slowness of the recovery in Puerto Rico is seen by some people here as dehumanizing.
Life is returning to parts of San Juan, the capital, but hurricane damage remains.

In a way, Maria has revealed the ugly colonial relationship between the island and the United States, said Silvia Álvarez Curbelo, a historian and director of the research center at the University of Puerto Rico’s school of communications.
“This raw nerve of colonialism comes creeping in in every conversation” these days, she told me. “It’s this feeling of subordination. The people — common people — have no way (to respond) except to wait. Wait for this letter. Wait to see if FEMA comes to town. Wait to see if the federal government comes (though) with the money they told us they would give us for recovery.”
Such frustrations reached a boiling point in the past.
There were plenty of other factors at play, but Spain’s failure to address a humanitarian and economic crisis after an 1867 hurricane in Puerto Rico “provided the context for the first political movement for independence on the island,” Stuart Schwartz, a Yale history professor, writes in “Sea of Storms.”
The uprising, however, was “crushed immediately,” said Álvarez Curbelo, from the University of Puerto Rico. Nothing like that ever would be tried today, she said. While Puerto Ricans have worked hard to create a national cultural identity, and while the idea of independence was popular decades ago, few Puerto Ricans in recent years have supported political independence from the United States, according to Florida International University anthropologist Jorge Duany.
If anything, Álvarez Curbelo expects Puerto Rico to sink further into “political paralysis” and become more US-dependent after Maria.
She doesn’t see the United States granting Puerto Rico full rights as the 51st state, a move that likely would require the approval of Congress. Remember, she said, this storm follows a massive debt crisis in which the island’s government declared bankruptcy. What does Puerto Rico have to offer the United States now? A fiscal oversight board, appointed by the US President, is steering austerity measures. Meanwhile, Puerto Ricans have been taught, generation after generation, she said, to believe that they cannot survive without the help of a colonial power.
“I’m not a pessimistic person,” she told me. “I’m a historian. I tend to be sober. I watch the long trends. But I don’t see the light — in the total sense of the word ‘light.’ The thing about power is it’s a metaphor for the island. The fragility of the energy system — of the power system — is the perfect metaphor for our condition: The light comes and goes. There is no sense of future.”

* * * * *

The ambulance arrived at 2:18 a.m. on January 6, records show.
It was too late.
Natalio Rodriguez Lebron died at 1:23 a.m.
According to the death certificate, Rodriguez’s death was caused by chronic lung disease, hypertension and diabetes. In the notes on that document, a doctor from the Puerto Rico Bureau of Forensic Sciences also mentioned that he was a smoker and obese.
That bureau, in San Juan, is the only laboratory in Puerto Rico authorized to classify deaths as hurricane-related. In the months after Maria, the office has come under criticism, including from CNN, for possibly missing dozens if not hundreds of “indirect” hurricane deaths.
The US government installed three emergency generators in Maunabo to try to re-electrify the town.

The official death toll has stood at 64 since early December.
In February, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Puerto Rico had enlisted the help of George Washington University to study the mortality that followed Hurricane Maria. That analysis, due out in coming months, will focus on deaths from September through February.
To date, Natalio Rodriguez’s death has not been classified as hurricane-related. Puerto Rico’s Department of Public Safety, which oversees the forensics bureau, did not respond to repeat requests for comment on his death and others in this story.
Rodriguez’s family believes his death was related to Hurricane Maria. His doctor, Pedro Lopez Lopez, shares that view. Rodriguez’s health deteriorated in the conditions Maria left behind, he told me. He saw Natalio about two weeks before his death; and he was “stable” then, he said.
The body was not delivered to the forensics office until 2:38 the following afternoon, a time that forensics documents confirm. By afternoon, the body had started to decompose. The family was told it would be impossible to have an open-casket service, as is the norm in Puerto Rico.
The closed casket was the hardest part of the funeral, a longtime friend told me.
“It was terrible,” Damian Lopez said. “If you love someone, you’d like to see him for one last time.”
There was also the matter of the expense.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency manages a program that can cover some funeral expenses for eligible families after hurricanes. But those deaths typically must be certified as hurricane-related in order to qualify.
The Rodriguez family already put $4,000 toward his funeral, a receipt shows.
They still owe $1,115.
In December, FEMA did grant the family $4,000 for home repairs and $3,000 to replace household items that were damaged in Maria, Lourdes Rodriguez said. Julia Rodriguez told me friends and relatives tried to offer the family money after the storm but that her husband turned away the help. He was a proud person, she said, and generous. He also knew that everyone in the community was suffering.

* * * * *

People will keep dying until power is restored.
That’s the stark assessment Arturo Torres Borges shared with my colleagues Leyla Santiago and Khushbu Shah, who tipped me off to the possibility of continued deaths in Maunabo. Torres is the medical doctor who wrote “Huracán Maria” on the death certificate of a local woman.
Natalio Rodriguez’s doctor puts it this way: “This is a public health crisis.” I met plenty of people at risk in Maunabo.
Some are so sick of the situation they try to laugh it off.
Zoraida Santiago Torres, 58, died February 13. Her family members believe a lack of electric power contributed to her death.

Across the street from Litza Rodriguez Figueroa, whose husband died in February, lives Ana Ramos Davila, a 74-year-old who will insist you drink her bottled water and then ask if you have any cute gringo friends who would drink Coors Light and play dominoes with her.
That’s the dream! she said — gringos, Coors and dominoes.
Post-Maria has included little of that.
“Christ! When is this going to be over?” she said of the storm. “I’ve spent $100 or more just on bags of ice” to try to keep food cool without power. “No one is helping me, my dear.”
“I already told my psychologist if you get a call that I took my life, don’t be amazed,” she said, serious. “I’m so tired of this — looking for supplies, finding water, lighting candles. I’m so tired.”
A few houses up the street, I met David Torres and Juanita Guzman, who were having their home repainted. Torres showed me a breathing machine he’s supposed to use at night but doesn’t, he said, because it requires a steady power source and could short circuit without one. He has a small generator — “I use it to turn on one light and one fan; if I turn on the light, I have to turn off the fan.” It doesn’t provide steady enough power to run the machine, he said.
“I need my oxygen mask. One of these days my wife is going to wake up and find me dead by her side,” he said. “She told me that in the night she hears me having trouble breathing.”
“If it’s my time to die, I’ll die,” he said, laughing. “There’s nothing I can do.”
Experts say post-storm stress and depression can be deadly.
Poverty exacerbates the risks, said Redlener, from Columbia University.
The way people interpret a disaster matters, too. If they believe the disaster is simply weather-related rather than manmade, they’re more likely to accept it, said Peek, from the University of Colorado. What she fears is that Puerto Ricans are struggling because of the human response to the hurricane.
“It’s like the despair effect,” she said. “People who feel forgotten and neglected — they may suffer negative mental health effects.”
Up the hill from the Rodriguez family live Miguel Amaro Leon, 79, and Maria Morales Ortiz, 76. They welcomed me onto their outdoor patio just as the sun was setting. A generator roared behind our conversation as they told me how hard it’s been to keep the thing running.
“It’s been really difficult because we have to pay for the gas,” Amaro Leon said. “We only use the generator three or four hours daily. If not, we would have to spend more money.”
Can they keep their insulin cold?
“More or less.”
“We try to eat food that doesn’t need to be in the refrigerator.”
As we talked, the generator ran out of gas.
Frogs chirped in the night.
“Things are getting better little by little,” Amaro Leon said. “We just need power.”

* * * * *

On my last evening in Maunabo, Lourdes Rodriguez took me to see her father’s grave. It’s in a cemetery in the valley, not far from the town plaza. Looking across the property, you can see the foggy mountains in the distance where so many of Lourdes’ relatives cut sugar cane and plowed the earth, first under the rule of the Spanish and now the United States commonwealth.
Natalio &quot;Pepito&quot; Rodriguez Lebron died on January 6.

Tears streamed down her cheeks.
Her father’s family nickname — “Pepito” — was written by hand in wet cement.
The family hasn’t been able to pay for a headstone.
“I can’t fix it,” she said, sobbing. “It’s hard for me to see it that way.”
Álvarez Curbelo, the professor at the University of Puerto Rico, told me earlier that she wished Hurricane Maria’s dead could speak. That way they would not be ignored.
I asked Lourdes what she thought her father would say if he could talk with us now.
“He would tell us to keep calm,” she said, somber. “That was always his saying: ‘Take it one day at a time.’ Don’t think about the next week or the next month.
“Take it one day at a time.”

OUTRAGEOUS: More than 1,000 deaths after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, 86 in Texas after Harvey

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF DAILY KOS.COM)

 

UTUADO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 05: Daniel Braithwaite prepares to catch a box of M.R.E.'s as helps U.S. Army 1st Special Forces Command soldiers as they deliver food and water to people after Hurricane Maria swept through the island on October 5, 2017 in Utuado, Puerto Rico. The neighborhood was cut off from help for about 2 weeks and there is still a need for basic life necessities after the category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Over 1,000 (one thousand!) people have died in Puerto Rico (above the average death rate) in the first three months after Hurricane Maria (through November).  So far we only have data for the first three months—September, October and November.   There is no information on the causes of death so far but Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism has sued the government for the cause of death data.

Even in November, the latest month for which we have data,  there were still 115 more deaths than usual.  Although we don’t yet know the causes of these deaths, is there any doubt that the government’s poor response to the devastation played a major role?  The lack of shelter, drinking water, food, electricity and adequate medical care, I’m sure have all played a roll.  The “official” death toll of course has stayed at 62.

Keep in mind that these deaths, over and above the usual number of deaths for the time of year, occurred even though the population was shrinking due to outmigration to the mainland.

The total number of deaths above average in September, October and November was 1,230, according to Alexis Santos, a demographer at Pennsylvania State University who obtained the data from the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics and conducted an analysis that he released to the Los Angeles Times this week.

Element removed

Of those deaths, 491 occurred in September and 584 in October — figures very close to estimates Santos published late last year based on more limited data.

The new analysis shows the higher death rate continued into November, the most recent month for which he obtained figures, with 155 more than average

www.latimes.com/…

Keep in mind that these death “overages” occurred despite the overall shrinking of the population.

@#$&*%#$&*

In Texas meanwhile, with a much larger population,

Hurricane Harvey, for example, killed about 60 people in the Houston area and then another 26 due to “unsafe or unhealthy conditions” related to the loss or disruption of services such as utilities, transportation and medical care. Nobody was still dying a month later.

www.motherjones.com/…

Is this any way to treat US citizens?!?

This administration has blood on its hands!

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