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  • PUERTO RICO HURRICANES

    No change in Naguabo a year after Maria struck Puerto Rico

    19 de septiembre de 2018

    Naguabo, Puerto Rico, Sep 19 (efe-epa).- One day before the one-year anniversary of the devastating passage of Hurricane Maria over Puerto Rico, residents in the eastern town of Naguabo are still suffering from no electricity, lack of housing and scanty help from both local and federal authorities.

    Especially in eastern Puerto Rico, recovery efforts in many places have not even begun.

    Naguabo authorities provided figures to EFE showing that 707 local residences were completely destroyed, including that of Angel L. Diaz, 62, in Barrio Daguao.

    After spending a couple of years building his two-story house and living there with his wife for more than 20 years, Maria's powerful winds took just minutes to destroy the upper floor.

    Only a toilet and a couple of zinc plates remain on the second floor now, along with a big blue tarpaulin to keep out the rain, and the town gets a lot of rain almost every day.

    Because of the damage, the couple had to move down to the ground floor, where they now live with other relatives.

    "It wasn't easy ... But at least we're alive," said Diaz.

    However, despite the tarpaulin, the rain still drips down through the ceiling and Diaz sets out containers to collect the water so that it doesn't cause even more damage.

    Diaz, who is disabled with knee, back and nerve problems, admitted that before the storm "I was calmer and I spent lots of time going to my friends' houses," but Maria put an additional strain on his nerves.

    He said he went to the psychiatrist, who prescribed medication for him, but he stopped taking it because they made his condition worse, and he's only getting a couple of hours of sleep per night.

    Regarding aid from the authorities, he said that "They gave me $591 for a door and a window. After that, they gave me $2,100 to buy a generator. The 'Your Home's Reborn' project came and we didn't want the help because they weren't offering water filtration aid. I'm going to wait until this month is over to rebuild the house," he said.

    The lack of adequate housing is not the only problem in Barrio Daguao, and just on Tuesday a brigade from the Electric Power Authority repaired a power pole in front of Diaz's home.

    The local power grid was completely destroyed by the storm, but although some people in Naguabo got back their electricity in days, others - like Barrio Cubuy resident Sixto Cruz - had to wait 10 months for the lights to go back on.

    "It was a really tragic life, no water, light, no food. We had to get water any way we could because the cistern was empty," Cruz told EFE.

    "The government isn't doing anything. The community is what united to provide services. I had a (roof collapse) ... and the mayor told me that there were other priorities," Cruz said.

    He also said he lost his fruit and vegetable harvest due to the storm, adding that when he requested aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to repair his home, he only received $377.