WASHINGTON — Puerto Rico just can’t get a break.
A powerful Nor’easter hit the Puerto Rico on Monday, as the U.S. island territory still struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria. Nearly 30-foot waves devastated beaches and docks and forced dozens of families to be evacuated again.
Many streets have been blocked off and more than twenty schools were closed, affecting around 6,000 students, according to the Associated Press.
Meteorologists say it was the largest swell in more than a decade in the U.S territory, which created waves bigger than those of Hurricane Maria last September. Some ferry crossings were cancelled due to rough weather conditions on the island. Government officials said three people had to be rescued from a motel in Hatillo, a town located in the northern part of the island.
“I went for my usual daily walk in the Old San Juan, looked at the San Juan Bay area, and was amused by those huge waves that were more powerful than ever, like never seen before,” said Andy Rivera, a 56-year-old architectural historian in San Juan. “There were serious visible damages to lamp posts, benches, concrete mid-wall, bollards and floor pavement. There might have been other impact on the structural base of the walls, but we will need a structural engineer to inspect them closely.”
The latest storm added to the nightmare for hundreds of thousands of Puerto Rican who are still struggling to return to normal life after the Hurricane Maria disaster. Nearly half a million Puerto Rico residents continue to live without power after the worst natural disaster on record in Puerto Rico.
A Puerto Rican government website states that 88.3% of houses have electricity, although residents and businessmen insist the percentage of people still going without power is much higher.
More than 300,000 Puerto Ricans migrated to Florida after the hurricane. The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at the City University of New York estimates Puerto Rico may lose up to 470,335 residents or 14% of the population from 2017 to 2019.
Around 10,000 small business are closed and It has been estimated that more than 5,000 of them will not operate again due to the destruction of infrastructure. According to Moody’s analytics, the hurricane could cost the island’s economy up to $95 billion, while Puerto Rico had been struggling financially long before the disaster.