One Year Out From Hurricane Maria, Full Recovery Still Elusive

A Puerto Rican flag is seen on one of the hundreds of pairs of shoes displayed at the Capitol to pay tribute to Hurricane Mar

A Puerto Rican flag is seen on one of the hundreds of pairs of shoes displayed at the Capitol to pay tribute to Hurricane Mar

Time has not healed wounds or cleared minds of the devastation brought on by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico past year.

Rosello complained that bureaucratic dealings with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) "have been excessive", and said the response by the Army Corps of Engineers - which sent personnel to the island days after the hurricane struck to re-establish electrical power - "was insufficient" and "lacked urgency".

Last month, the U.S. Commonwealth's government sharply raised the official estimate of Maria's death toll to nearly 3,000 after an independent study.

The White House dispatched administration officials, including Housing Secretary Ben Carson, to the island to meet with Puerto Rico officials to discuss the ongoing recovery efforts. "They needed our help and still need help".

He says rebuilding homes has been the primary focus.

"Seeing all the people getting together gives me hope that Puerto Rico can get up stronger", Hernandez said.

"If the Puerto Rican people don't realize that the American federal government does not care about them and does not care about their well-being - if this doesn't show them that then I don't know what else will", Torres said.

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On Thursday, Trump issued a one-sentence statement on the one-year anniversary of Maria. In August, a study by George Washington University lifted that to almost 3,000.

Even before the Category-4 storm hit, Puerto Rico was financially bankrupt with $120 billion in debt and pension liabilities it can not pay. A year after Maria, the island is far from prepared for the next big storm, with an ever-fragile power grid, damaged infrastructure and the same crippling debt.

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". Despite blue tarps still covering missing roofs on thousands of homes, and citizens living with unstable access to electricity or clean drinking water, little help has arrived from cash-strapped local governments or the Trump administration.

"To see the island of enchantment was a deep and painful experience", he said.

"We're still waiting for help", he said.

While the study also credits the island's lack of emergency protocols as another source of blame for the undercount, it highlights the fact that without communication channels to aid the death certification process across the island, numerous recorded deaths were recorded via word of mouth. During a forum held on Wednesday by the nonprofit Center for Investigative Journalism, community leaders urged for a multisectoral approach to the recovery, rather than a government-only-led effort, which has proven slow and full of missteps.

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