MARICAO, PUERTO RICO – Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, destroying the island’s infrastructure and stripping the landscape bare.

CAGUAS, PUERTO RICO – In the weeks following the storm, volunteers from the mainland organized their relief efforts to bring supplies to the island. Above, former Hartford city councilman Luis Cotto gives out supplies to residents who hadn’t yet seen any relief workers -- nearly four weeks after the hurricane hit.

SALINAS, PUERTO RICO – Water was also in short supply in many remote towns across the island. Danny Torres, (pictured above) of Meriden, Connecticut, joined a cohort of volunteers and veterans from Connecticut traveling the island with their own water purifying system to give residents clean water.

HUMACAO, PUERTO RICO – The hurricane first touched down on the eastern side of the island. Standing on top of one of the town’s highest peaks, Rosalina Abreú said this area was a shaded paradise before Maria. After the hurricane, she served hundreds of meals there for people in need.

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT – Thousands of Puerto Ricans fled the island to live with family in Connecticut. Guillermo Class (right) sold his car to fly his two sons back to the mainland. Above, he walks with his son Joemar (right) on his first day of school at Bulkeley High School.

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT – As winter in New England winter started to set in, many families displaced by Maria were in need of warmer clothing and other supplies. The bigger concern was finding a permanent place to live.

VALLE HILL, PUERTO RICO – On the island, the hurricane had exacerbated problems that predated the storm. Residents in Alberto Diaz’s neighborhood continually suffered flooding because their neighborhood was built in a federal wetland. But many residents there couldn’t get FEMA help after Maria because they didn’t have title for their properties.

CAYEY, PUERTO RICO – But an island can’t live Hurricane Maria 24 hours a day. In the town of Cayey, a non-profit opens its doors every weekend for people to sing, dance, and take a break from the ongoing recovery. When there was no electricity,, they used candles and lanterns to light the room.

"The Island Next Door" Documentary

One year after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, Connecticut Public presents a documentary featuring people of Puerto Rico and Connecticut, and the stories of how their lives have been changed by the storm. Stream on demand here, at CPTV.org or CPTV Passport

About This Project

Hurricane Maria tore through the island of Puerto Rico in September 2017 – taking out power lines, destroying homes, disrupting industries, raking the island’s forests, and displacing families.

Since then, Connecticut Public Radio’s reporters have covered the aftermath of the storm both from the mainland and from the island’s streets and mountains because – with 300,000 state residents who claim island roots – Hurricane Maria is a local story.

Stories

As Puerto Rico Closes Schools, Communities Trying To Revive Shuttered Buildings This used to be Gamaliel Laboy Andino’s school. But he doesn’t go here anymore. No one does -- not since the government closed it more than a year ago. It saddened him, he said, because there are students who now ...
Hurricane Maria Victims Remembered In Bridgeport One Year Later A vigil was held in Bridgeport Thursday — one year after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. The event was a small, solemn gathering held in memory of those who died.
Local Puerto Ricans To Observe Hurricane Devastation, Make Call To Action Vigils will be held Thursday in Hartford and Bridgeport to mark one year since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico.
Hartford Residents To March For Puerto Rico Despite Lack Of A Permit Rallies are scheduled Thursday in Bridgeport and Hartford to commemorate the one year mark since Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico. But, the Hartford event is facing a bit of an administrative obstacle.
After Hurricane Maria, Chef José Andrés Had A 'Crazy Dream' To Feed Puerto Rico When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, chef José Andrés and the groups he founded, World Central Kitchen and Chefs for Puerto Rico, sprung into action. "We began serving hospitals, because the doctors and the nurses — nobody ...
Blumenthal, Officials Call For Better Treatment Of Puerto Rico By Federal Government The Puerto Rican government has acknowledged that nearly 3,000 people died after Hurricane Maria hit the island last year. At first, it said that only 64 people perished as a result of the storm.

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Videos

On The Island

Click the markers in the map to see our stories by location.

On The Mainland

Photos

About This Project

The Island Next Door is a reporting project that came out of the recognition that Hurricane Maria was a distant storm with a local impact.

Begun in the WNPR newsroom, this project aims to tell the stories that link New England and Puerto Rico — finding the people, places, successes and challenges on the island and the mainland today.

The Island Next Door has been honored with several national, regional and local awards including:

  • 2018 National Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Video
  • 2018 PRNDI (Public Radio News Directors Incorporated) 2nd place for National Edited Continuing Coverage
  • 2018 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Continuing Coverage
  • 2018 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Video
  • 2018 New England Emmy for Outstanding Video Journalist
  • 1st place Connecticut Society for Professional Journalists award for feature photo
  • 2nd place Connecticut Society for Professional Journalists awards for video essay and continuing coverage.
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