Puerto Ricans like the Rev. Damaris Whittaker find it difficult to hold back tears for the roughly 3,000 people who died after Hurricane Maria ripped through the island. But Whittaker and others say that two years later, it’s time for more than tears.

The hurricane was deadliest natural disaster to hit the U.S. in 100 years, and since September 2017 the island has had to essentially prove its need. Puerto Rico, long mired in a government debt crisis, has only received about a third of the recovery funds approved by Congress. Its already limping electrical power infrastructure was crippled by the storm, and rebuilding has been slowed over questions of federal and local government corruption as well as inefficiency.

The island’s governor was forced out of office along with members of his administration in a scandal over leaked text messages, and it took a couple of tries to get a replacement and she came with some political baggage.

Stuck in these eddies of political and bureaucratic turbulence, residents and activist are zeroing in on the 2020 presidential candidates, seeing the next president as their best hope for making the island functional and returning it to financial and economic stability.

“The scars Hurricane Maria left in every Puerto Rican are very deep, and it’s time for us to heal,” Whitaker, a United Church of Christ minister in New York, said. “In my world, healing mainly comes from God. But for all of us, it starts with who we trust to lead our nation.”

source: nbcnews.com


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