Hurricane Maria

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Ariana Colón’s 1-year-old son Sebastian shows off his first word – “Mamá” – as she speaks with me over the phone from the hotel room in Kissimmee, Florida, where they’ve been living this year.

Along with Sebastian’s father, they arrived there shortly after Hurricane Maria devastated their home island, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, last September.

The family has benefited from a federal program for disaster victims called Transitional Sheltering Assistance. It pays their hotel tab while they find gainful employment and permanent housing.

But meeting landlord conditions for that housing has proven as difficult for Puerto Ricans like Colón as it so often does for longtime Florida residents.

Jewish Museum of Florida

Miami-Dade commissioners will vote Wednesday on the controversial 836 extension - a project to prolong the highway for 14 miles south of its current location and west of Kendall. Many people who live in Kendall and commute downtown have expressed support for the project. Those in opposition say the extension could wind into the Everglades. Sundial sat down with Tere Garcia from the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority to discuss the proposal.

Tom Krall lives on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands on the west end of the island, high on a ridge. That's where he was in September when Hurricane Irma roared through.

"We had the full blast," Krall says. "Twenty of the 30 houses in my neighborhood lost their roofs or worse."

The National Hurricane Center says Irma had sustained winds of 185 mph when it hit the Virgin Islands with gusts of 200 mph or higher. They were the most powerful winds ever recorded in that part of the Caribbean.

Jonathan Schilling / Creative Commons

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the federal government signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Carnival Corporation to help house federal aid workers and first responders on the company's Fascination cruise ship in the United States Virgin Islands.

Updated 5:58 p.m. ET

The last of the federal government's power restoration crews are scheduled to leave Puerto Rico when their contract expires next week, leaving the island's power utility with the task of energizing the last 1.5 percent of customers still waiting eight months after Hurricane Maria.

But on Wednesday, the island's representative in Congress asked the federal government not to send its crews home.

Not all displaced students from Puerto Rico who enrolled in central Florida schools have stayed.

Orange County Schools said 2,238 students from Puerto Rico are currently enrolled. They came after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Students enroll and then withdraw as families figure out living situations. Another 1,185 new Puerto Rican students have left the district this school year.

Englewood Elementary Principal Alex Reyes said he’s heard many of them have gone back to the island.

NASA

The names of four deadly hurricanes that slammed parts of the United States, Central America and the Caribbean last year are being retired.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday that hurricane names Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate will be replaced with Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel. The new names will make their debut during the 2023 hurricane season.

Miami Herald Archive

Hurricane Maria, the sixth fastest intensifying hurricane on record, likely slammed parts of mountainous Puerto Rico with fiercer winds than previously reported, the National Hurricane Center said Monday in a final assessment of the lethal storm.

Maria struck the island’s southeast coast Sept. 20, lingering for nearly eight hours and leaving a death toll that remains a matter of dispute.

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Guests for Sundial Wednesday, April 4 2018:

The West Palm Beach City Commission adopted a “welcoming city” immigration policy last year. The measure led the county to fall under the suspicion of the Department of Justice for deliberately withholding information regarding the immigration status of people taken into custody.

To reach the Martinez home in Puerto Rico's central mountains, social worker Eileen Calderon steers around piles of dirt, treacherous potholes and power company trucks that block the road. Finally, we pull up to a sagging cement home, the roof done in by Hurricane Maria. Laundry hangs under a tarp, and a cat is tied to a leash outside the door.

Amidst the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s devastating effects on Puerto Rico, Florida lawmakers believe the State has been inactive when tackling the issue of displaced Puerto Ricans. This has opened the floodgates for an issue Florida has been dealing with for years.

Greg Allen / NPR

A blackout hit northern Puerto Rico late Sunday after an explosion set off a big fire at a main power substation in the U.S. territory.

Health care in the U.S. Virgin Islands remains in a critical state, five months after Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria pummeled the region.

The only hospital on St. Thomas, the Schneider Regional Medical Center, serves some 55,000 residents between the islands of St. Thomas and St. John. Schneider's facilities suffered major structural damage, forcing a decrease in its range of services, mass transfers of its patients, staff departures and significant losses in revenue. Only about one-third of the beds are currently available for patient care.

Florida Facing Affordable Housing Crisis

Feb 1, 2018

In the wake of natural disasters, stagnant wages and a growing separation of wealth, Florida is suffering from an affordable housing catastrophe and concern is growing statewide.

WMFE

FEMA is extending housing assistance for Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria.

The extension lasts through March 20. Puerto Rico’s government asked for the extension of the Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program as more than a third of the island remains without power.

But the Rev. Jose Nieves of the First United Methodist Church of Kissimmee says many families and hotels where they are staying have not yet gotten the word.

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