Published: Sat, September 22, 2018

Reading vigil marks one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria

Reading vigil marks one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria

Shuttered businesses, blue tarp roofs and extensively damaged homes can still be seen throughout Puerto Rico a year after Hurricane Maria ripped through the island with 150 mile-per-hour winds, and access to electricity and fresh water remain spotty.

Led by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, a cadre of 20 administration officials are meeting with Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and other local officials "to discuss ongoing recovery efforts as we continue building a stronger, more resilient Puerto Rico", deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement.

Cuomo has faulted President Donald Trump's response to Maria, saying the federal government has ignored the needs of millions of Americans still struggling to recover from the storm. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers installed temporary blue roofs on almost 60,000 homes, and there are still tens of thousands of insurance claims pending.

Religious leaders and government officials recalled how Puerto Rico was ravaged by the storm that killed an estimated 2,975 people and caused more than an estimated $100 billion in damage.

"He's the only one in Orlando too", Torres said.

Teaching is not the only industry seeing more help.

More than 200,000 people left the island after the storm, mostly to the USA mainland, according to government data.

Cruz-Torres added those in the coastal areas, fishermen in particular, were among the hardest hit because of the gear and boats they lost.

"Seeing where I grew up not looking the same and thinking if everyone was okay when I couldn't know if they were or they weren't", Hernandez said. The aid was part of the $20 billion disaster recovery grant agreement, the largest pledge in the agency's history. It's also important to note that the devastation from Hurricane Maria, even one year later, is unprecedented.

Valentin is an art teacher at Lehigh Elementary and said the new job could not have come at a better time.

Nivia Rodriguez, a 60-year-old retiree whose uncle died a week after Maria, is among those disgruntled by Trump's comments, as well as by videos of rescue crews responding to Hurricane Florence in North Carolina.

Though they feel camaraderie together gathered at a park in Allentown, they feel the government turned its back on Puerto Rico. Since the storm, that has shot up to 98 percent, she said.

Make The Road Pennsylvania organized the vigil to recognize Hurricane Maria's landfall on the USA territory as well as to decry what many in attendance said was an unacceptable response by the US government. "It's something that affected all of us and keeps affecting us", he said.

Ilanys Hernandez, who now lives in Bridgeport, was born in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico.

"The point is for people to have a good time", Banuchi said.

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