Hurricane Maria hit the island just two weeks after another powerful storm, Hurricane Irma, passed Puerto Rico as it swept through the Caribbean.
The original death toll of Puertoriqueños was 64 victims according to the USA government. David Begnaud was in Puerto Rico when the Category 4 hurricane made landfall and has been following the recovery efforts. They helped Torres put a deposit on her new apartment and provided her with some new furniture from Ikea. 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.
More than 2,000 CUNY students applied for the chance to help, and only 200 were selected to go to the island with SUNY students and volunteers.
"Puerto Rico is a colonial territory", and therein lies the "inherent difficulty", Rosello said in an interview with local radio WKAQ 580, as commemoration ceremonies for the hurricane victims were under way. "The best tribute we can give these people, these brothers that we've lost, is to build a better Puerto Rico for their sons, their grandsons and their families". The San Juan mayor has noted that the island has seen only a fraction of nearly $50 billion in recovery funds Congress approved, including the $20 billion in HUD funds.
During the ceremony with Carson in San Juan, Rossello said the USA island was still recovering from hurricanes Irma and Maria and added that Puerto Ricans were grateful for the Trump's administration "committed attention to the recovery of the island".
"To see the island of enchantment was a deep and painful experience", he said.
"You worry, because you think it's going to fly off like it did before", she said.
Government officials argue that many changes have been made to better prepare Puerto Rico for future storms, but they acknowledge that significant obstacles remain.
Cruz-Torres added those in the coastal areas, fishermen in particular, were among the hardest hit because of the gear and boats they lost. Rosario said she already spent her $7,000 dollars of FEMA aid, and is now using money from a relative, who is also helping her with the labor of rebuilding her home, but says she knows there's not enough money for all the materials.
"The path forward is challenging and will be measured not in months, but really in years", Carson said. "We're helping churches fix their buildings and their roofs", he says. Since the storm, that has shot up to 98 percent, she said. There also will be live music that will incorporate sounds of the hurricane hitting the island.