Governor blames 'colonialism' for US's poor Puerto Rico hurricane response

1 year after Hurricane Maria: Vigil held to honor lives lost

A girl helps her mother carry donated food and other staples handed out to residents in need September 13 by the MARC Ministry, a nonprofit charity in Manati, Puerto Rico.

"This is historic. It's a historic failing", said Carmen Yulin Cruz, speaking on CNN's "Anderson Cooper Full Circle". The university study accounted for Puerto Ricans who succumbed to the stifling heat and other aftereffects of the storm and had not been previously counted in official figures. Trump has called his administration's emergency response to Maria an "unsung success" and "one of the best jobs that's ever been done". The exact toll is unknown.

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.

"I saw trees fallen everywhere, houses without roofs, people without water, without electricity, people crying and scared", said Eduardo Salgado, who came from the island to Reading in October.

"There's some language barriers that need to be overcome, but what we've seen is, again, the hospitality, the hotel, resort, and lodging industry have opened their doors", Jim Wall of Career Source Southwest Florida said.

In its 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Impact on Communications Report, released in August 2018, the Commission highlighted Chairman Pai's visit to Puerto Rico, the "repurposed funds" sent to the island, and regulator waivers that were granted as the bulk of "the numerous actions" of aid the Commission has taken.

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"The path forward is challenging and will be measured not in months, but really in years", Carson said. She also described, in detail, the troubles that have plagued the island territory since the storm began a year ago.

Even before the Category-4 storm hit, Puerto Rico was financially bankrupt with $120 billion in debt and pension liabilities it can not pay. The San Juan mayor has noted that the island has seen only a fraction of nearly $50 billion in recovery funds Congress approved for Puerto Rico, including $20 billion in HUD funds.

Those at the vigil said they do plan on having more demonstrations until they get a better response from the federal government.

Last week, Trump disputed the new estimate, tweeting, "When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths".

He said the "real issue" is rebuilding and giving Puerto Rico a more resilient infrastructure, steps that are "a lot more productive than arguing about the number" of dead. "Our intention there is that we want to restore these churches to be places of hope in the community".

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