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Philadelphians hoping to reach family in Puerto Rico

25 September 2017

"I want to know if my cousin who lives by herself in the montes (hills) in Vega Baja is okay", she said. "What am I doing here?" Prior to the storm, Puerto Rico was struggling with a relatively poor infrastructure with low staffing. In addition, product is also earmarked for both residents and refugees from surrounding Caribbean islands affected by the storm (namely British and U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Martin, St. Thomas).

Puerto Rican government launched a massive emergency evacuation operation for tens thousands of people from a river valley below a dam in the island's northwest, adding misery to residents after the hurricane.

Rotterdam resident Yvette Vega says she has no idea if her friends are okay.

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Following weeks of hurricane relief efforts from Hurricane Harvey and then being on alert for Hurricane Irma, the Kentucky National Guard is now fully focused on relief efforts in San Juan, Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria. It said if anybody can hear us, please, we are stuck here and we can't get out and we have no power and we have very little water left. These include cots, medical supplies, foodstuff, drinking water, batteries, and generators.

Only 5 percent of wireless cell sites are in service, the island's Federal Communications Commission said Saturday. Today, though, some local officials said those reports were overblown and the dam is expected to hold.

Because Puerto Rico was already struggling under a staggering amount of debt, high unemployment and a plummeting GDP, the recovery will be even more hard; as Reuters wrote, Puerto Rican GDP has shrank by over one percent in seven of the 10 years preceding 2016, while "the poverty rate is over 40 percent and unemployment stands at 10 percent". It owes $74 billion in debt.

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Congress, as part of an agreement to allow the island to restructure, imposed a fiscal control board that has demanded sharp cuts to pensions and other expenses and the furloughing of public workers.

Direct Relief has longstanding relationships with healthcare partners throughout the island, and more than $400,000 in assistance has been sent to those clinics over the past year. Rossello couldn't say when power might be restored.

This backdrop makes the storm especially painful. "It's really devastating and catastrophic - what I'm seeing on Facebook, which has been the medium of communication for folks from outside". "It's not like one of the 50 states", Gutierrez said. "People do not have access to their own money since banks, ATMs are not functioning and whatever can be bought is only with cash since cash register and credit cards machine are not working", they wrote.

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Philadelphians hoping to reach family in Puerto Rico