Puerto Rico: Residents Forced To Make Tough Decisions Amid The Aftermath Of Hurricane Maria

Residents of Puerto Rico, who are still reeling from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, are being forced to make difficult decisions about their future. With few resources, tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans are facing the grim reality that they may not have an opportunity to rebuild their homes, or their lives, for many years. Instead, an estimated 10 percent of the population could be forced to relocate elsewhere.

On Wednesday, September 20, Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island of Puerto Rico with sustained winds of 64 miles per hour and gusts up to 113 miles per hour. The United States territory was also struck with more than 37 inches of rainfall in some regions.

The massive category 4 hurricane caused widespread flooding as well as catastrophic damage to businesses, homes, and other structures. The storm also severely impaired the island’s communication networks and destroyed its power grid.

Authorities estimate more than 50 Puerto Ricans were killed amid Hurricane Maria. However, the number is expected to increase as dozens of residents remain missing.

The total loss, according to early reports, is expected to exceed $8 billion. As reported by New York Times, that figure includes a loss of more than $780 million in agriculture production.

Authorities estimate nearly 100,000 residents fled Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. As the damage to the island remains catastrophic, the United States territory may lose up to 10 percent of its total population.

In addition to losing their homes, residents who relied on agriculture have lost their livelihood. As many schools remain closed, some residents are being forced to relocate so their children can continue their education.

Puerto Rican resident Jose Alvarez and wife were forced to make a difficult decision, as their home and their children’s school were destroyed by Hurricane Maria.

As reported by The Baltimore Sun, Jose’s wife and children moved more than 1,800 miles to live with a relative in Lorain, Ohio. During the next year, Jose plans to rebuild their home. Unlike many of his neighbors, Mr. Alvarez was able to secure employment with a company that delivers coffee to local restaurants and other businesses.

Although Puerto Rican authorities expect to lose nearly 10 percent of their total population, a majority of the residents are committed to rebuilding their businesses, homes, and lives. Many of those who were forced to relocate, including the Alverez family, hope to return at some point in the future.

[Featured Image by JEAN-FRANCOIS Manuel/Shutterstock]

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