It’s been just 6 months since Hurricane Maria’s 155 mph winds devastated Puerto Rico, leaving the island crippled and in desperate need of assistance.
The island and its people are still a long way from reaching recovery status. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Hope Heroes Puerto Rico workers and volunteers are still in emergency mode: still distributing food, water, and medical supplies; still picking up debris and installing blue tarps as roofs on damaged homes.
This week, Hope Heroes shipped 120,000 meals to the western side of Puerto Rico, but it is not enough.
Puerto Ricans are dealing with a serious crisis that has resulted in a significant mental health problem.
The health department’s Commission for Suicide Prevention reported that the number of people on the island who have reportedly tried to commit suicide since Hurricane Maria hit the island has more than tripled. From November 2017 through January 2018, a crisis hotline run by Puerto Rico’s Department of Health received 3,050 calls from people who said they had attempted suicide — an astounding 246 percent increase compared to the same time last year.
Many rural areas still don’t have electricity. “Right now, we’re at about 93 percent of customers connected,” stated Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossell. “Of course, the last mile, as they call it, is really the toughest one to get to.” The Army Corps of Engineers is hoping to have full power restored on the island by June.