Analysis, Commentary, Environmental

Report and Video Highlight Challenges Facing Hurricane Maria’s Survivors in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico recovery
Residents evacuate after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, September 22, 2017. Because of the heavy rains brought by Maria, thousands of people were evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Puerto Rico—(ENEWSPF)—December 11, 2017

By: Rakesh Singh and Craig Palosky

A new Kaiser Family Foundation report and video find residents across Puerto Rico facing a wide range of daily and long-term challenges as they struggle to rebuild their lives after Hurricane Maria swept across the island Sept. 20 as a powerful category 4 storm.

Based on focus-group and individual interviews with 40 Puerto Ricans from 10 different regions of the island conducted in San Juan and Ponce in November 2017, the Voices from Puerto Rico: Reflections Two Months after Maria project reveals that residents still face incredible challenges and life is far from normal.  Common themes include:

  • The storm had significant negative effects on people’s physical and mental health, and many participants continue to experience depression, stress, and anxiety.
  • Participants continue to face challenges meeting basic needs, and daily life remained extremely challenging due to lack of electricity and limited work options.
  • Participants feel that recovery efforts have been slow and insufficient.

Despite these challenges, many believe Puerto Rico will recover, although they recognize recovery will likely take many years and believe that the people themselves have an important role to play in recovery.

The report and video are part of KFF’s ongoing work looking at the impact of the powerful hurricanes that hit the United States this year, including Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Hurricane Harvey in Houston and coastal Texas.