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The Travel Detective

Puerto Rico: A Special Report

Locations in this article:  San Juan, Puerto Rico
In 2017, Hurricane Maria swept in from the Southeast and made landfall over Puerto Rico as a category 4 storm. And shortly thereafter, it became the worst hurricane to hit this island in 80 years. Within hours, it had ripped off the roofs of hundreds of buildings, downed telephone poles, destroyed the cell and electrical grid, and quite literally left 3.4 million people in the dark. Sustained winds of 150 miles per hour battered the island for eight hours, causing upwards of $90 billion in damage– crippling Puerto Rico’s infrastructure. Heavy rain, flash flooding and storm surge filled homes and streets with water and raw sewage, making homes uninhabitable and ruining businesses. And the official fatality figure, which stood at 64 for almost a year after the storm–has recently been revised to almost 50 times that number–nearly 3,000 storm-related deaths. And now, nearly a year later, the tragedy has also developed into a remarkable story of resilience, community and recovery. And in some cases, Puerto Rico is coming back even better than before.

By Peter Greenberg for