Daily Count Up

The AEE continues to report 99.8 of the population in most municipalities has power. Today is 253 days since Maria made landfall and 266 days since Irma made made landfall on Puerto Rico.

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Unnecessary Deaths Add Up

twitter.com/leylasantiago/status/10018049569308590

Deaths in PR still attributed to Maria
Deaths in PR still attributed to Maria03:47

‘We are the forgotten people’: It’s been almost six months since Hurricane Maria, and Puerto Ricans are still dying

Updated 10:32 PM ET, Thu March 15, 201

Natalio Rodriguez Lebron, center, is shown with his family.

Maunabo, Puerto Rico, is still off the grid almost six months after Maria, the mayor tells CNN.

The US Army Corps and FEMA say logistical issues -- including Puerto Rico's remote location -- explain power-restoration delays.
Lourdes Rodriguez, right, with her two children and mother, Julia "Miriam" Rodriguez.
Hurricane debris is piled up at a temporary dump in March in Maunabo.
In March, power lines were still twisted and broken in southeastern Puerto Rico.

CNN)Lourdes Rodriguez heard the scream early on the morning of January 6, before the sun rose and before the frogs began their chorus.

“Lourdes! Lourdes!”

She instantly recognized the voice of her father, Natalio Rodriguez Lebron, 77, a former nurse who cared for the mentally ill, people he believed society had forgotten.

She darted up the stairs. Her father’s health had long been troubled. He had diabetes, lung disease, sleep apnea and congestive heart failure. And in the months since Hurricane Maria battered this coastal town, Lourdes watched his condition worsen. The sleep apnea machine he needed to help him breathe was useless for months because their hilltop neighborhood in Maunabo was entirely without electric power. In December, a business had donated a generator to power the machine at night, but the family struggled to afford the gasoline needed to keep it running.

As Lourdes reached the top of the stairs, she felt an uneasy stillness in the air. The sky was thick and black. No moon was visible. And the electric generator, a machine that sometimes rumbled like a car engine, had fallen eerily silent.

She swung open the living room door to find her father clutching his chest.

The machine was off. Her father appeared unable to breathe.

 

Her mother, Julia “Miriam” Rodriguez, stayed with Natalio while Lourdes rushed to restart the generator, which had run out of gas, and repower the breathing machine. Her mother felt Natalio’s body go limp in her arms and then collapse to the floor, face down.

Her father’s health had long been troubled. He had diabetes, lung disease, sleep apnea and congestive heart failure. And in the months since Hurricane Maria battered this coastal town, Lourdes watched his condition worsen. The sleep apnea machine he needed to help him breathe was useless for months because their hilltop neighborhood in Maunabo was entirely without electric power. In December, a business had donated a generator to power the machine at night, but the family struggled to afford the gasoline needed to keep

Natalio Rodriguez Lebron, center, is shown with his family.Natalio Rodriguez Lebron, center, is shown with his family.

 

Frantic, they called 911 and tried to comfort him.

Waiting there on the floor, Julia Rodriguez told me, she felt a wind — a physical gust — leave her husband’s body and pass into her own. She said it was as if the decades they’d spent together — the moves from Puerto Rico to the mainland and back; the hours they both worked as nurses; the three children they raised — hovered in the room, a tangible, living thing, and then became part of her.

Julia Rodriguez knew then that her husband might not survive.

All these months later, it seemed the storm may have won.

* * * * *

It’s been nearly six months since Hurricane Maria.

Its howling winds, which topped 150 mph, long have dissipated. The storm that battered Puerto Rico on September 20 before hooking northward into the Atlantic is a memory.

Yet, in this US commonwealth, people are still dying in Maria’s wake.

That’s especially true of those who lack basic services like electricity.

Rodriguez died on January 6. In addition to his death, CNN identified five people who died in 2018 from causes that friends, family, doctors or funeral home directors consider to be related to Hurricane Maria and its aftermath.

I hope this is not too messed up. I’m blogging from my phone.