A Look From The Ground In Puerto Rico Following Hurricane Maria

Sep 21, 2017
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Puerto Rico is in full-on disaster-response mode after powerful Hurricane Maria hit yesterday. There is no power on the entire island and almost no running water. There have been landslides, flooding and widespread structural damage.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald has been in Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, reporting on the storm and its aftermath. And she told us while she was hunkered down during the storm she was getting updates from one of the few radio stations that was still broadcasting.

PATRICIA MAZZEI: And at one point, they kind of cut off the governor, Ricardo Rossello, in the middle of an interview, which is something rare in the news business, because they told him, it looks we have to leave our studio. There is a crisis.

CHANG: When the broadcasters returned, they told listeners they had to evacuate their studio. The windows had blown out, and the roof was starting to tear off.

MCEVERS: It was a dramatic day all over the island. And Mazzei says the trouble did not end with the storm.

MAZZEI: We are in San Juan, and it is complicated and chaotic to get around. And a lot of roads are not only blocked by debris, but also entire neighborhoods are cut off by floodwaters.

CHANG: Authorities have asked people to stay home, but many are out, trying to clear debris and get to loved ones. Mazzei says the few streets in the capital that are open are clogged with traffic.

MAZZEI: It took us two hours just to try to leave the northern part of San Juan where Old San Juan is and the tourist area because the main highway there was closed in one direction.

MCEVERS: She says it's a challenging situation today. And looking ahead, people are worried.

MAZZEI: They're very concerned about not only not having power because they say, you know, we can live without power for a while. But they don't have running water. And people really just don't have a lot of information. I mean outside, elsewhere in the island, people don't know how their relatives are. The government can't reach a lot of the places. The curfew in place - but some people don't know there's a curfew. You know, it's just a very complicated - being on the ground.

CHANG: The full picture of the damage in Puerto Rico is still coming into focus, but we will continue to cover the unfolding situation there. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.