[Episcopal News Service, by Amy Sowder] Episcopal clergy and congregation members in Puerto Rico are resuming church services and school classes when they can and how they can, despite the vast devastation almost a month after Hurricane Maria swept through last month (20 September). It was the strongest storm the island has faced since before the Great Depression, a Category 4 hurricane that spewed up to 40 inches of rain in some places in one day, whereas Houston, Texas, saw 32 inches in three days from Hurricane Harvey in late August, according to the Weather Channel and the National Hurricane Centre.
Almost a month after Maria, Puerto Ricans are still in crisis mode. Forty-five deaths have been reported so far related to the storm, and residents in the northern part of the island have no clean water to drink so they are drinking contaminated water in nearby rivers, according to Episcopal Relief & Development. About 90 percent of the island was still without electricity as of 11 October, three weeks after Maria hit. In comparison, 22 percent of the homes and businesses on the Virgin Islands are without power from Maria.
“The lives of so many people have been turned upside down,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s senior vice president of programs in the latest Hurricane Maria report. “This is a humanitarian crisis that will affect many people in the years to come.”