How Puerto Ricans are restoring power to the people

In this second episode of our new radio documentary series The Response, we shine a spotlight on Puerto Rico. When Hurricane Maria slammed into the island about a year ago, it resulted in thousands of deaths and knocked out power for almost an entire year. The result was what many consider to be the worst disaster in the United States.

Further, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria exacerbated the ongoing debt crisis that has been crippling the country's public services for years — a crisis that has forced many communities on the island abandon hope that the government will ever come to their assistance. And so when Hurricane Maria hit, it wasn't a surprise to many of these already-abandoned communities when the official response was often nowhere to be seen.

This conversation has been told before by many mainstream news outlets. What you might not have heard, however, is the story of the grassroots response that arose after Maria. In the midst of all the austerity and hurricane-driven chaos, a quiet revolution has been slowly taking place on the island. What began as an impromptu community kitchen meant to help feed survivors in the town of Caguas has since grown into an island-wide network of mutual aid centers with the ultimate aim of restoring power — both electric and civic — to the people. We'll hear from many of those involved in these centers and find out why they are growing so quickly and what they are doing to begin addressing both the acute and chronic disasters that Puerto Ricans are facing today.

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