MiamiHerald / Lourdes Rodriguez fled Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria filled her home in the northern town of Vega Baja with mud, ruining mattresses and other belongings. She thought it would be a short stay with her daughter in Florida, but three weeks later there’s still no power or water back home.
“We’re going to be here indefinitely,” the 59-year-old retiree said in an interview at the daughter’s home in Tampa. “It’s been crazy, totally unexpected, like nothing I’ve experienced before.”
In San Juan, Efrain Diaz Figueroa, 70, sat listening to a battery-powered radio amid the wreckage of his home, its walls collapsed into the yard and clothes and mattresses soaking in the rain. A sister was coming to take him to family in Boston: “I’ll live better there,” Figueroa said.
Tens of thousands of islanders left for the U.S. mainland to escape the immediate aftermath of the storm. With conditions back home still grim – about 85 percent of residents still lack electricity and 40 percent are without running water, and neither is expected to be fully restored for months – many find themselves scrambling to build new lives away from the island.