Transcript for 6 months after Hurricane Maria, where recovery stands in Puerto Rico
It has been six months to the day since hurricane MARIA tore through Puerto Rico. And the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since then millions have slowly been picking up the pieces and Eva pilgrim is in Puerto Rico where MARIA made landfall and MARIA, I mean, Eva, good morning to you. Reporter: Good morning, Michael. Yeah, you can still see the damage from the storm. Those tries back there, bare. The blue tarps on the roof. We've standing on a roof right now. You can see some of these volunteers, they are scraping this roof, they will then seal this roof to help repair it for one homeowner. We are six months out and so much work has been done, but there is still so much left to do. Hurricane MARIA ripped through the island of Puerto Rico, a category 4 storm. Almost a 5 with winds at 155 miles per hour. Carmen watched from a neighborary house as MARIA destroyed her home. The living room. This is the living room. The kitchen. Reporter: Six months later she is still staying with her sister. They don't have power. Her home a shell of what it once was. All that's left, the concrete walls and part of the bathroom. What of all this stuff here has been the hardest thing to lose? Reporter: The house? We first made the journey here days after the storm, the bridge gone. This used to be part of the bridge that has now completely collapsed in the force of hurricane MARIA. The only lifeline, this cable stretching across the rushing river. Families forced to make a white-knuckle crossing. What are you having to do. We got to cross, we got to walk little by little. Reporter: Today the river is down. Cars able to cross. The new bridge almost done. A sign of the recovery for this community still going without on both sides. Ople waiting patiently for the power to be restored. FEMA says at one point it gave out 1800 general raters across the island. 885 are still in use. For hurricane Katrina in Mississippi and Louisiana they only gave out 310. The good news we got a chance to build it back the right way. Reporr: How long will be you here? As long as it take, five to ten years is not outside the realm of the possible. Reporter: The army corps of engineers is hoping to have full power restored by June. But right now we're at about 93% of customers connected. Of course, the last mile as they call it is really the toughest one to get to. Reporter: In yabucoa where MARIA made landfall most are still without power. The mayor telling us they spent almost $350,000 fueling generators just to pump clean water into the community. Today, he says the recovery slow is happening thanks to volunte volunteers he calls angels but the recommend naps of MARIA piled nearby reminders of the damage but also a reminder of how far they've come. FEMA says there's millions of cubic yards of debris. Take a look. With this drone you can see this one pile from one town just metal all from hurricane MARIA. Down the road we checked on MARIA Ortiz who frantically begged for help when our own rob Marciano first met her after the storm. I want the world to know there's a lot of old people here in Puerto Rico that they need help. Reporter: Today she has power. The lights coming on just a few days ago. We got light. We got the ac. Reporter: The first real sense that old Normal is possible. You know what I miss, the noise and I realize, oh, yeah, it's true, the noise. Reporter: A Normal that Carmen torres back in San Lorenzo is still waiting for. She knows it will take time but she planks to rebuild because this is home. You're rebuilding? And it's important to note that San Juan is actually pretty much back to Normal and the governor telling us any want and need people to know they are open for business. This econwmy is so dependent on tourism and one of the things that you can actually do is simply just to visit, guys. Yeah, really important. Really important. A lot of help. You can see the recovery is slow. A lot of help is still needed. You know, 155-mile-per-hour wind, rob, you were there when it made landfall. It was a terrifying night and following morning for sure and after the storm passed we drove down to where landfall was and, boy, 80% of the crops gone. We saw millions of trees obliterated and when we got to yabucoa we saw the desperate people in line and met MARIA who took us to this nursing home and our viewers stepped up. CEO of invick that saw our report and packed up his private jet and flew it down the next week to stock MARIA up and part of the ongoing process and hats offer the Americans who supported them. It was so great to see her in Eva's piece. David, you were there too. You were there too after the aftermath. You saw firsthand. Yeah, this was the crazy thing, 15 minutes from the airport when you land we went to this apartment building with no power, no running water, no food and we walked in. They were just waiting for help and we knew the president would be coming to Puerto Rico and knew this location was just going to be 10, 15 minutes from where he was and no one had been to these buildings yet. This is Lizbeth taking care of her parents. Doctors hadn't come to check on them. We sent our team back. The building now has power, food, water and medicine again and incredible thing is look at this. There were good samaritans watching the news and they answered the call. Angel and Patsy Gomez waiting at the airport in New York and brought Lizbeth and her parents back to the United States so their parents could get medical help here. You can't forget nearly 3 million U.S. Citizens if Puerto Rico, U.S. Citizens in Puerto Rico. A lot of people, you know, that was lost on a lot of people in the middle of that That's true. Robin, I know you visited another region that was devastated, the U.S. Virgin Islands. Yes, because they have that one-two punch and there was a lot of focus on Puerto Rico and rightfully so but the virgin Islands were raising their hands saying what about us and like everything that you saw in Puerto Rico, so many people there to help and many were helping themselves like the Phillips family who I visited with and I have an update on how they're doing and others in the Virgin Islands. I would imagine you used to have windows here. Doors. Doors. The hurricane ripped it off. That's what happened. We first met the Phillips family last year. Despite their own circumstances they jumped into action that have air St. Thomas neighborhood was ravaged. First by hurricane Irma and then by MARIA. So it was out of necessity you came up with this idea. Yes, and because we were the only one left in this neighborhood with a roof. Reporter: The Phillips with the help of their beautiful 12 children cooked 250 meals daily for their community. She took the China I purchased and that's what I was using to feed the people. Tell people why you did that. To give people back a little bit. A little hope. Hi, "Gma." Since you last saw me, I've been cooking for nonprofit group that's here on our island helping us clean up. They're called all hands and hearts. I try to make special dishes for them so they can experience a little bit of the caribbean. Reporter: Now working for the nonprofit Mrs. Phillips turned her home kitchen into a fully functional commercial kitchen. We have been cooking for 50 to 80 people every night except Sunday. Breakfa breakfast. A friendly smile going a long way as the volunteers help to rebuild St. Thomas. You may remember adopt a family, the care package initiative that sent thousands of supplies to the U.S. Virgin Islands at a crucial time. You can't use it, you know somebody who can. Reporter: The organization has since launched adopt a classroom. We appreciate all your help and support and love that you're going to send us this those boxes. Reporter: Although class is back in session, eight schools out of 32 public schools of the U.S. Virgin Islands were condemned and many schools were badly damaged. We have open ceilings, each day it rain, we have a bucket there that is catching some of the water. Reporter: These devoted teachers now making the most with what they have. I have a special delivery today. Reporter: Little boxes of joy to help lift their spirits. All: Thank you. And happy to say that so far at least 165 classrooms have been adopted through adopt a classroom. There are still more waiting adoption and there's so much good that's going on right now. We saw all these organizations in Puerto Rico and in the virgin Islands and we really wanted our viewers to see what you're doing is making a difference. Huge difference. I got to tell you when I was there, that simple box, I say simple box, it's a lifeline. You should see how people light up when they would open the boxes and now with the classrooms you can do that as well. One gentleman said if you don't need it, share that with somebody else. That's what they've done and the teacher who said it rains in that corner but she still teaches the kids in that classroom. We have to remember. When you get that support from around the world it lets you know that people still love you and behind you and are standing with you through the worst time of their live. Take a trip. It's a win/win for everybody. All those areas are really about tourism. It would really help them. Thank you guys for that. I really appreciate it. Thank you at home. You watch the news all the time and "Gma," you help. It makes sump a difference. Very appreciated.
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