Puerto Rico is still in the dark three weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island
Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 and, according to the latest figures from the island government, killed at least 45 people. It also created a new surge of migration that could have lasting demographic effects on Puerto Rico and the mainland.
Tens of thousands of islanders left for the U.S. mainland to escape the immediate aftermath of the storm. With conditions back home still grim — about 85% of residents still lack electricity and 40% are without running water, and neither is expected to be fully restored for months — many find themselves scrambling to build new lives away from the island.
At left, a plea for help on the roof of a damaged building in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The government is reporting that much of the island is still without power and access to drinking water. Right, Sonia Torres, 60, inside her destroyed home in Aibonito, three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit. (EPA / Shutterstock; Mario Tama / Getty Images)stroyed home in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit. (EPA / Shutterstock / Mario Tama / Getty Images)
Safe drinking water still an issue
Clockwise from top left: Puerto Ricans who have no running water in their homes collect spring water in containers from a pipe alongside a highway in Utuado; Yanira Rios uses discarded plastic bottles to collect spring water to use in her home in Utuado; a woman washes her hair in the Espiritu Santo River, which many Puerto Ricans now bathe and wash their clothes since only 11.7% of the island's electrical grid has been restored; Luis Hernandez, left, directs spring water into a tub held by Sergio Rivera for washing in Jayuya. (Getty Imagesl Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Getting food and aide to remote areas of the island
FEMA Administrator Brock Long said 16,000 federal and military assets are on the ground in Puerto Rico and about 350,000 Puerto Ricans have registered so far in the FEMA system to receive financial assistance.
Heavily damaged infrastructure
Roads and highways have been washed out, hampering relief efforts to the interior of the island.
Top, Highway 10, a major north-south connection through Puerto Rico is heavily damaged. Left, people use a rope line to cross the San Lorenzo de Morovis River. Right, a washed-out road in Manati. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)
Puerto Rican officials say it will probably be four to six months before power is fully restored across the U.S. territory of 3.5 million people. Food and basic supplies remain scarce in the mountainous interior, waterborne diseases pose a growing threat, and many hospitals are in dire circumstances.
Left, Jose Javier Santana holds a Puerto Rican flag he found on the ground. Santana said that the flag in its torn and frayed shape is how Puerto Rico is now. Right, a girl plays in the neighborhood Obrero in the capital, San Juan. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images; Thais Llorca / EPA / Shutterstock)
– compiled from Los Angeles Times and Associated Press reports