Daily Archives: Sep 22, 2017


    BUFFALO, NY, September 22, 2017 – On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, catastrophic, category 4 Hurricane Maria made direct impact across the entire island of Puerto Rico. It left the entire island without electricity and knocked down cell towers, stopping all communications and other major damage. Many residents had gone days without water or electricity even before Hurricane Maria hit due to the impact of Hurricane Irma. With Buffalo having one of the largest Puerto Rican communities outside of the island, it has personally affected many city residents who have struggled in recent days, not knowing if their loved ones are safe.

    Mayor Byron W. Brown, in partnership with Western New York Latino Leaders, have come together to assist the victims of Hurricane Maria, and established The Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria Relief Fund to help provide both immediate and on-going support to the residents of Puerto Rico. To support efforts, resources and involvement are needed from the Buffalo area community.

    Multiple donation centers have been set up to collect items for emergency relief from Monday, September 25 to – at least – Friday, October 6. Locations include Buffalo City Hall, All County Buildings, ECC, as well as the Belle Center at 104 Maryland St. (8am-6pm) and St. Anthony’s Church at 306 Ingham Ave. Lackawanna (10am-12pm and 2-4pm). Once these desperately needed items have been collected, we will ship them directly to a collection center located in Puerto Rico.

    The following is a list of much-needed supplies: bottled water, D batteries, canned goods, old-style can opener, candles, flashlights, baby supplies (diapers and wipes). A more extensive list of donation drop-off locations and requested items can be found by going to: www.city-buffalo.com

    We also set up other donation options. A bank account, managed through the Belle Center, has been established at M & T Bank. Tax-deductible donation checks may be made payable to the Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria Relief Fund. A Go-Fund-Me account has also been set up. You can find the link on the local FB Page: Puerto Rican Hurricane Maria Relief Fund.

      The cash-strapped U.S. territory has come to a halt due the great devastation caused by hurricane Maria

      Puerto Rico, the only Spanish-speaking U.S. territory and one of the most advanced economies in Latin America, has basically come to a halt after hurricane Maria left the entire island without power, destroyed thousands of homes in all of its 78 municipalities and debris blocked major roads and highways.

      After devastating Dominica and smashing the U.S. Virgin Islands, Maria showed its most destructive force over the bankrupt territory early on Wednesday, and it did so in such a way that 24 hours after the catastrophic event, all but one of the key news radio stations (WAPA 680AM Radio) and three local television stations, including government owned WIPR, had been taken off the air.

      Most of the 3.2 million people living on the island are also without tap water and don’t have any way to communicate with relatives since telecommunications networks, internet and cable television services are down across the entire island. Even the Puerto Rico Police Department lost its radio communication system, making it difficult for law enforcement officers to rapidly respond to help requests from citizens. The National Weather Service (NWS) radar in Puerto Rico was also destroyed.

      About 46% of the island’s population are below the poverty threshold.

      Banks, manufacturing companies, shopping centers, universities and schools were closed on Wednesday with no idea of when such activities might resume. Some looters in the metro area took advantage of businesses wrecked by the storm.

      In the meantime, first responders, emergency workers and citizens across the entire island were out in roads, streets and avenues attempting to remove debris as quickly as possible and assist those in need.

      Roads and communities were so battered by Maria that on Wednesday, Governor Ricardo Rosselló issued a historic a three-day curfew order, warning citizens that those who do not comply might be arrested. Citizens are not allowed on the streets between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. until Saturday, September 23. Stores are not allowed to sell alcoholic beverages either.

      At of this writing, it is being reported that three people died in the municipality of Utuado.

      “I haven’t been able to communicate with my parents”

      On Thursday morning, governor Rosselló arrived at WAPA Radio and urged citizens to remain calm while revealing that even he hasn’t been able to communicate with his parents.

      “I know these are difficult times, but we want people to know that the government has not stopped”, said Rosselló.

      El Nuevo Día learned that several electric towers of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa), the island’s sole electric utility, were knocked down by Maria.

      Rosselló said that “basically, a 100% of the electric grid is down” and explained that while restoring electricity, water and telecommunications is a priority, other key tasks in the recovery process include clearing roads and setting upan emergency medical response center to be located at Centro Médico, Puerto Rico’s trauma and tertiary hospital. After María, many health facilities throughout the island were severely damaged by the hurricane or are experiencing problems to take care of their patients, so the government logistics effort would make possible for those with the worst conditions to be transferred to a better facility.

      “The people are our priority”, said Rosselló, adding that all citizens, from the poorest to the wealthiest, were on the same boat after suffering “massive loses” due to María.

      Rosselló said that even though María caused great devastation across the island, he was confident that, as it has happened with other disasters, Puerto Ricans’ generosity would be essential to the island’s recovery.

      A major hurricane amidst a fiscal crisis

      Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico at a time of great financial difficulty for the U.S territory and its residents. Puerto Rico’s cash-strapped government defaulted last year after issuing nearly $74 billion in public debt and has run billion dollar-gap deficits for over 15 years.

      Last year, Congress enacted PROMESA, aiming at restoring Puerto Rico’s fiscal discipline through a set of tools: a court-supervised debt restructuring, an infrastructure czar to ensure a fast-track permits process for infrastructure projects and a control board that is required to oversee the closing of a $7.3 billion budget gap.

      Years of poor fiscal management even resulted in the failure to appropriate monies to the Puerto Rico’s Emergency Fund despite there being a law on the matter. El Nuevo Día previously reported that said fund only has about $34 million. This would make Puerto Rico’s own safety financial net to deal with a major disaster such as María only drop in a bucket, and just last week, it was reported that hurricane Irma left between $600 million and $1 billion in losses.

      Puerto Rico’s recovery would greatly depend on how much relief its government could get from the federal government. President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), which was already assisting U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico and U.S the Virgin Islands, promised additional help.

      María’s destructive power over Puerto Rico might dwindle that of the Board’s, at least in the short term.

      On Thursday evening, the Fiscal Oversight Board, a federal entity that many have criticized for ordering a furlough program as a cash-saving measure, approved a request from Rosselló to amend the government’s current budget. The Board allowed Rosselló to reprogram up to $1 billion of the current budget for recovery efforts. Additional budget modifications might be approved down the line, said a letter issued by the board’s chairman, José B. Carrión.

      “Our thoughts and prayers are with you and with the people of Puerto Rico during this difficult time”, wrote Carrión”. “Given the gravity of the situation, the Oversight Board understands that more flexibility is needed to respond to the devastating effects of hurricane María”.

      By: Joanisabel González – El Nuevo Dia

      Residents move aluminum panels from an intersection after Hurricane Maria hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

      Hurricane Maria destroyed buildings and knocked out power across Puerto Rico before flooding parts of the Dominican Republic and then regaining some of its strength as it approached the Turks and Caicos Islands and southeastern Bahamas on Thursday night.

      The second major hurricane to rage through the Caribbean this month, Maria has killed at least 18 people and devastated several small islands, including St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Dominica.

      Maria is now a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, with sustained winds of up to 125 miles per hour (205 km per hour) and is 80 miles (130 km) southeast of Grand Turk Island, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

      t is expected to bring 24 to 38 inches (61 to 97 cm) of rain to Puerto Rico and 8 to 16 inches (20 to 40 cm) to the Turks and Caicos, which could cause flash floods and mudslides, the NHC said.

      Maria’s strength was not expected to change during the next few days, the center said. The storm looked unlikely to hit the continental United States.

      Officials in Puerto Rico were assessing the damage after Maria slammed the island on Wednesday with winds of up to 155 mph (250 kph). Ranked a Category 4 storm when it made landfall, it was the strongest hurricane to hit the island in nearly 90 years.

      U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters the island had been “totally obliterated” and that he planned to visit.

      Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said there was 13 death reported so far, a man struck by a piece of lumber hurled by high winds and others drowning.

      “It’s nothing short of a major disaster,” he told CNN, adding it might take months for electricity to be completely restored to the island, which has a population of 3.4 million. He imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew through Saturday.

      Maria struck Dominica as a Category 5 storm on Monday night, damaging about 95 per cent of the roofs on the island, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said. At least 14 people died, CNN quoted Charles Jong, a spokesman for the Dominica prime minister’s office, as saying.

      Two people were killed in the French territory of Guadeloupe and one person on the U.S. Virgin Islands.


      Utility crews from the U.S. mainland were headed to Puerto Rico to help try to restore the battered power grid and the U.S. military sent ground forces and aircraft to assist with search and rescue.

      More than 95 percent of wireless cell sites were not working on Thursday afternoon on the island, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, more than three-quarters of cell sites are out of service.

      Puerto Rico was already facing the largest municipal debt crisis in U.S. history, and a team of judges overseeing its bankruptcy has advised involved parties to put legal proceedings on hold indefinitely as the island recovers, according to a source familiar with the proceedings.

      In the historic heart of the island’s capital San Juan, which has a fort and buildings from the Spanish colonial era, the storm left a litter of wreckage.

      Roads were blocked by downed foliage and firefighters and rescue officials wielded chain saws to cut through the debris.

      San Juan airport reopened for military and relief flights on Thursday, with plans for a limited resumption of commercial flights on Friday.

      With electricity and communications knocked out across the island, workdays evaporated and people busied themselves with securing food, checking on their battered homes and collecting rain water.

      South of the capital in Cataño, about 10 residents whose homes were flooded sat around a pickup truck on the edge of the waters and mixed a cocktail of grapefruit juice, cranberry, ice and vodka that they called “matatiempo” or “killing time.”


      Maria passed close by the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix, home to about 55,000 people, early on Wednesday as a rare and ferocious Category 5 storm, knocking out electricity and most mobile phone service.

      “The worst is behind us,” Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp told reporters on Thursday. “Now is (the) time to march forward and build a better community, a better territory.”

      About 600 people throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands are in emergency shelters and many parts are without power, Mapp said.

      “It’s going to be a long road to recovery,” Mapp said. “It ain’t going to happen in a week or two and it definitely ain’t going to happen in a few months.”

      Maria hit about two weeks after Hurricane Irma pounded two other U.S. Virgin Islands: St. Thomas and St. John.

      Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record, killed at least 84 people in the Caribbean and the United States. It followed Harvey, which killed more than 80 people when it hit Texas in late August and caused historic flooding in Houston. More than two months remain in the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.


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