Puerto Rico

Nelson Gets Key Endorsement In Fight For Puerto Rican Votes

Oct 1, 2018
John Raoux AP Photo

A little more than a month out from the November election, the courtship of Puerto Ricans in Florida intensified Monday, with the island’s governor throwing his support behind U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in what could be seen as a blow to Nelson’s opponent, Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s endorsement of Nelson unleashed pushback from Scott, who’s made nine trips to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on the U.S. territory a year ago.

Abandoned Animals Strain System In Puerto Rico

Sep 24, 2018

As the sun rises above San Juan’s Peninsula de Cantera neighborhood, stray pigs roam the streets looking for scraps of food.

Kaitlin Hall / WUFT

On Sept. 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria pounded Puerto Rico, destroying nearly everything in its path and cutting off the island from the rest of the world.

A year later, the storm is long gone but the memories of near-death experiences and horrific suffering remain fresh for Puerto Ricans.

“We’re going to die here,” Pablo Soto Soto recalls his wife telling him as the storm knocked out their windows and ripped off their roof in Yabucoa.

Read the whole series: Life After Maria, a WUFT Special

Sam Turken / WLRN

Standing alongside Puerto Rican community leaders in Miami on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said he didn't want to talk politics on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria's landfall in Puerto Rico. 

But that wish gradually gave way as the Democrat from Florida condemned President Donald Trump for disputing the death toll from the hurricane and called on the federal government to do more to rebuild the island. 

Carmen Lugo has lived in Puerto Rico her whole life, and her whole life she has feared the water that comes out of her tap.

"When I was a child, we used filters," she says, leaning on the doorjamb with her 11-year-old in front of her and two teenage sons sleepy-eyed behind her on a morning in July.

"The water here," she says, pausing as she purses her lips in a tight smile. She chooses her words carefully. "We want to be in good health," she finally says. "My husband, he buys water from the Supermax," referring to a local grocery store.

UCF Establishes Research Hub For Puerto Rico

Sep 19, 2018

As Puerto Rico recovers from Hurricane Maria and evacuees from the island settle in Central Florida, the University of Central Florida has created a Puerto Rico Research Hub designed to identify solutions to challenges and issues affecting the community.

It's far from over in the Carolinas, and President Trump is on the way.

As the remnants of Hurricane Florence roll north along the Appalachian Trail, the floodwaters deepen and the death toll rises. The destruction will remain for longer than anyone knows.

And for the victims, the first days of desperation are giving way to despair.

That is why the president is fitting in a visit to the stricken region on Wednesday.

Courtesy Ernesto Morales

President Trump astonished people across the country last week when he denied 3,000 Puerto Ricans died as a result of Hurricane Maria. He insisted (falsely) that Democrats inflated the death toll to make him “look bad.”

For Ernesto Morales, Trump’s tweets exacerbated his awful memories of the storm, which demolished Puerto Rico a year ago this Thursday.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET

President Trump denied the death toll of nearly 3,000 from hurricanes Maria and Irma, which swept across Puerto Rico a year ago, in a series of tweets Thursday morning.

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico," he tweeted. "When I left the island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths."

Trump then blamed Democrats for the figures, "to make me look as bad as possible."

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

During an Oval Office briefing on preparations for Hurricane Florence, a reporter asked President Trump if there were lessons to be learned from the widely criticized FEMA response to Hurricane Maria last year in Puerto Rico. Trump's response? In short: Nothing to see here.

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 was feeding them," Andrés says of the initial effort.

But then calls started pouring in from places that were hours away from San Juan. Andrés says the message was clear: "The island is hungry. With one restaurant alone, we have not enough."

Federal Judge Orders Spanish-Language Sample Ballots

Sep 7, 2018

A federal judge Friday required elections officials in 32 counties to provide Spanish-language sample ballots for the November general election --- but said there wasn’t enough time to order more far-reaching steps to help Puerto Ricans eligible to vote in Florida.

It's not easy packing your bags and saying goodbye to your family after a Category 5 hurricane has wiped out what you call home, leaving so many places — tied so closely with childhood memories and routine — bare and unusable.

Flaviane Venditti

The Arecibo Observatory is repairing damage to the giant radio telescope after hurricane Maria, but operators now need help with another issue — cats.

After Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico last year, operators say a family of cats began calling the observatory their home.

Updated at 9:25 p.m. ET

Puerto Rico's governor updated the island's official death toll for victims of Hurricane Maria on Tuesday, hours after independent researchers from George Washington University released a study estimating the hurricane caused 2,975 deaths in the six months following the storm.

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