Stories of our connected and rapidly changing region.


Weeks After Maria, Bringing The Basics To Puerto Rico

Luis Edgardo Cotto hands out water filters and solar lamps in Caguas. Residents said these are the first supplies they’ve received since Maria hit.
Photo by Ryan Caron King for WNPR

We drove to Caguas, a city south of San Juan, four weeks after Hurricane Maria hit. Our guide was Luis Cotto — a former Hartford city councilman now living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We traveled to Puerto Rico to tell stories; he traveled to deliver thousands of dollars in inflatable solar lights and water filters to people who need them, including members of his family.

We stopped to ask for directions in a place call Villa del Rey.

“We don’t have help from nobody, man,” said Jose Ayala, 59, who grew up in Holyoke, Mass.

What began as a search for directions became a microrelief effort.

“The mayor from here, our mayor — we haven’t seen him,” he said. “Just you three guys. You’re the first guys that came in here. Not even the police come in here. This is a project and they’re scared of people in here, I think.”

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