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.

About This Project

It’s been more than six months since Hurricane Maria tore through the island of Puerto Rico — taking out power lines, destroying homes, disrupting industries, raking the island’s forests, and displacing families.

 Connecticut Public Radio’s reporters have covered the aftermath of the storm both from the mainland and from the island’s streets and mountains.  We’ve told stories about families still trying to provide the basics, college students reimagining their futures, schools adapting to hundreds of new students, and people just hoping to furnish their new, but empty, apartments.

 Our reporters and editors decided to cover Hurricane Maria because — with nearly 300,000 state residents who claim island roots — it’s a local story. The island is an ocean away from our newsroom, but it might as well be one town over. Connecticut Public Radio is committed to telling these stories of people touched by the storm.

Stories

Official Death Toll In Puerto Rico Once Again Challenged By Study Update: The Puerto Rican government acknowledged in a preliminary draft recovery plan submitted to Congress that it is likely more than 1,400 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Another study is out that places the death toll related ...
Juggling...And Struggling To Re-Imagine Arts And Culture In Puerto Rico When Hurricane Maria barreled into Puerto Rico last year, it swept away homes, businesses, and jobs. Not only did it leave a catastrophic environmental mess, but Maria also blew away any remaining cover for the island’s dire fiscal crisis. That’s ...
Waiting For Supplies For His Home, One Puerto Rican Rebuilds Another Man's House Instead You only have to ask Ramón Luis Morales once to know that the trauma of Hurricane Maria is still fresh.
State Aid On The Way For Hurricane Maria Evacuees In Connecticut The state of Connecticut has set aside $1.5 million to meet the needs of Puerto Rican evacuees and the Connecticut municipalities that took them in for the current fiscal year.
Fixing Up After Maria, One Corner Store At A Time Alberto Díaz lost most of what he had when Maria passed through. Nine months later, he is making opportunity out of disaster. His kitchen is a kitchen again. He used some wood he found to make a homemade tostonera -- ...
Vieques Still Finding Its Footing After Hurricane Destruction The island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, is an isolated place known both for its remote beaches and the decades during which the U.S. Navy used those beaches for bombing runs and training exercises.

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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.

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