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6 months after devastating Hurricane Maria: How is Puerto Rico recovering?

By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
March 20, 2018, 1:03:51 PM EDT

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Although it has been six months since Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is still struggling to return to normal with an estimated $90 billion in damages.

Crews have restored power to 93 percent of customers and water to 99 percent of customers, but more than 100,000 Puerto Ricans still remain in the dark with frequent power outages.


Power company officials are considering installing U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-funded battery-powered solar panels to provide more immediate relief for rural areas that remain in the dark, Electric Power Authority interim director Justo Gonzalez said.

According to a recent study by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York, in the six months since the hurricane, more than 135,000 people have fled to the U.S. mainland.

The estimate found more than 40 percent of them settled in Florida, with others fleeing to Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania.

The Associated Press found that of the $23 billion pledged for Puerto Rico, only $1.27 billion for a nutritional assistance program has been disbursed, along with more than $430 million to repair public infrastructure. FEMA also has spent more than $6 billion from its standing emergency fund.

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Signs that progress is being made slowly but surely continue to emerge. Last week, a bridge connecting 60 families to the town of Utuado in the central part of the island and home to 33,000 people, was rebuilt after washing away during Maria's rampage.

"Utuado was at one point considered ground zero after the most devastating, slowest and most impactful natural catastrophe in the modern history of Puerto Rico," Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosello said, according to ABC News.

Puerto Rico Six Months After Maria

In this March 13, 2018 photo, 93-year-old World War II veteran Antonio Morales rests in a single-story concrete home with no running water, in Corozal, Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Puerto Rico Six Months After Maria

This March 13, 2018 photo shows dozens of gallon jugs and plastic buckets used to store water for bathing in the home of 93-year-old World War II veteran Antonio Morales, in Corozal, Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Puerto Rico Six Months After Maria

This March 13, 2018 photo shows an area that was prepared by residents for the installation of a pledged generator that never materialized, in Corozal, Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Puerto Rico Six Months After Maria

In this March 13, 2018 photo, José Morales checks a water tank installed on the roof of his residence in the Barrio Mana neighborhood, in Corozal, Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Week That Was From Latin America Photo Gallery

Coamo's city government relies on residents to tell it where damaged cables and posts are located, and uses hand-drawn maps to show homes that have power or need it, and the city updates the power company. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Puerto Rico Connecticut

Activists and Puerto Rican families displaced by last year's devastating Hurricane Maria attend a protest at the Connecticut state Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, in Hartford, Conn,. urging lawmakers to support legislation that will provide financial help to the thousands who've sought refuge in the state. (AP Photo/Susan Haigh)

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