On the morning of Wednesday, September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico with sustained winds of 155 mph, uprooting trees, downing weather stations and cell towers, and ripping wooden and tin roofs off homes. Electricity was cut off to 100 percent of the island, and access to clean water and food became limited for most. The powerful Category 4 storm devastated the island and plunged all of its 3.4 million residents into a desperate humanitarian crisis.
Puerto Rico, officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, is an island territory of the United States, located in the northeast Caribbean Sea. It’s known for its white-sand beaches, the historic city of Old San Juan, and El Yunque National Forest. The archipelago had already been facing a recession for over a decade before Maria hit. Almost half its residents lived below the poverty line — by far the highest poverty rate of any U.S. state or territory — and the unemployment rate was more than double the national level.
In June 2018, teams from the University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame traveled to Puerto Rico to film testimonies from Puerto Ricans from all walks of life. As you explore the content on this site, you will hear powerful narratives of loss and recovery, abandonment and resilience, failure, and hope as you come to better understand Puerto Rico’s past, present, and future. These individual testimonials are complemented by resources that are meant to deepen your understanding of an urgent multidimensional crisis that involves policy, culture and history, political economy, environmental loss, civil infrastructure, public health, and human dignity. To learn more about this project, please click on the icon at the center of this page, titled, "Huracán María en Puerto Rico"