Hurricane Maria exposes poverty in Puerto Rico

Margarita Rodriguez held a flashlight and quizzed her 11-year-old daughter, Isel Martinez, about homework Oct. 25 outside their home in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Much of Puerto Rico remains without power and water nearly two months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island Sept. 20.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria did more than catastrophic physical damage when they struck Puerto Rico back-to-back in September, crippling the U.S. territory's power grid and infrastructure.

"The hurricanes basically blew off the top of all the poverty on the island," said Father Flavio Bravo, SJ, the superior of the island's Jesuit community and president of the Jesuit high school, Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola, in San Juan. Puerto Rico is in the Jesuit's Central and Southern Province, which is based in St. Louis.

Catholic organizations, groups actively working on Puerto Rico’s recovery

Father Carlos Francis Mendez, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Las Marias, Puerto Rico, delivered aid with parishioners’ help to a remote area outside the town Oct. 24. It was the first aid residents of the poor area had received at their homes more than one month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

QUEBRADILLAS, Puerto Rico — A month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Catholic organizations, groups and individuals were still among the most prominent responders to the needs of a suffering people.

Despite early logistical obstacles, as of Oct. 20, the local Caritas chapter had disbursed over $1.1 million in aid to an estimated 50,000 people — including food, clothing, first aid supplies, potable water and sundries. At its San Juan office, hot lunches also were being distributed daily to members of the community.

A week after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico begs for help

Displaced people filled containers with water Sept. 26 in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Much of Puerto Rico remains without communication and electricity and in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

WASHINGTON — More than a week after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, much of the island remained without communication and in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

News programs tell of long lines of travelers, who have little food or water, and are desperate to get off the island at the San Juan airport to no avail.

But the scene of destruction outside the airport is even more stark: An island whose dense tropical landscape, along with its infrastructure, towns and cities, has been greatly stripped by winds that reached 155 mph.

Agencies organize efforts for relief in Puerto Rico

The Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province in St. Louis is accepting financial contributions to help two Jesuit parish and school communities in Puerto Rico hit hard by Hurricane Maria.

"Our school and parish communities need help to recover," a post on the province website reported. "Colegio San Ignacio, our secondary school in San Juan, received significant damage. We anticipate our families will have significant needs."

The Jesuits, faculty and staff are safe but communication from the island remained limited.

With prayer, Catholics in Puerto Rico deal with Hurricane Maria’s wrath

Karlian Mercado, 7, and her father, Carlos Flores, stood atop what remains of their home Sept. 24 in Hayales de Coamo, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage after Hurricane Maria passed through.

WASHINGTON — Authorities say it may take months for electricity to fully return to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria pummeled the island and its infrastructure as it made landfall Sept. 20.

When the hurricane hit the island with winds of up to 155 miles per hour, it tore out cables, roofs from homes and buildings, uprooted palm trees and even bent a cross anchored to a cement post at the entrance of a Jesuit school.

Editorial | Rally around the forgotten Americans of Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, wiping out power and communication infrastructure, damaging homes and farms.

The island of Puerto Rico, home to 3.4 million citizens of the United States, remains almost entirely without electricity and telecommunications and is coping with severe shortages of food and drinkable water almost a week after being hit by Hurricane Maria. But that communications blackout is no excuse for the island's virtual absence from news coverage over the past weekend, when mainland newspapers and television were more focused on football and the latest tweets by President Donald Trump.

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