Skip to main content

tv   CNN Newsroom Live  CNN  September 22, 2018 12:00am-1:00am PDT

12:00 am
the following is a cnn special report. >> right now, it is the worst that i have seen. this storm has intensified. we are feeling wind gusts of 113 miles per hour. >> one year ago, maria came to puerto rico like a chainsaw in the sky. 100 miles wide. >> this is definitely the worst wind we're seeing so far. >> reporter: six months' worth of rain fell in days. dams cracked. hillsides fell.
12:01 am
systems failed. >> maria has knocked out power to the entire island. >> reporter: but mother nature's wrath was just the beginning. and human nature would mean the difference between life and death. >> what is your death count as of this moment? >> 16 certified. >> 16 people certified. 16 people versus in the thousands. >> reporter: they were wrong. thousands would die. >> it is really a good news story. and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane. >> damn it, this is not a good news story. this is a people are dying story. >> we've running out of food and water. >> reporter: and while the president brags -- >> puerto rico was an incredible unsung success. >> reporter: -- this tragedy will go down in history. and it's not over yet. tonight, a cnn special report,
12:02 am
"storm of controversy: what really happened in puerto rico." welcome to old san juan. a city named after john the baptist by christopher columbus of the united states for over a century. but one of the most tragic chapters in the long, rich history of this place was written in the last year. and it is still unfolding. it's a story of unprecedented destruction that came from the ocean and for many an even more frustrating response coming from the president in charge of protecting it. >> happening now, breaking news. monster storm. >> reporter: the summer of '17 was a perfect storm of perfect storms.
12:03 am
first, hurricane harvey blasted texas. >> it is delivering not only punishing winds but the potential for feet of rain. feet. >> reporter: then irma careened through the caribbean on its way to the florida keys. and when it grazed puerto rico, they thought they had dodged a bullet. but then, a little storm named maria grew into the mother of god awfulness. >> maria changed from a tropical storm to a category 5 hurricane in historic speed. we had never anticipated an event of this magnitude here in puerto rico and i think that's one of the lessons learned. >> reporter: one of the primary missions of the federal emergency management agency is preparedness. but a federal review has revealed that their supply warehouses were empty. every tarp and cot had been sent
12:04 am
to the virgin islands for irma. fema had only a handful of satellite phones and less than 100 generators on a blacked-out island in need of thousands. >> we are out of food. we're running out of food and water. >> reporter: from vieques in the east to mayaguez in the west, we documented day after day of desperation. the only help coming from neighbors or kind-hearted combat vets who flew down on their own dime and slept in an abandoned airport. >> i think we're at like 30,000 meals, 35,000 meals. >> wow. >> i don't know how many -- that's just with the small trucks we've had, and by hook and by crook getting supplies. >> reporter: celebrity chef jose andres rounded up an army of volunteers and managed to hand out 3 million meals. but all the while, there was one common refrain. where is fema? >> as soon as i got off the
12:05 am
chopper, a gentleman came toward me and he said hey, who are you? i said, i'm cnn. i'm asking him if this is enough. >> reporter: my colleague leyla santiago has been providing relentless award winning coverage since day one. >> and he was so angry. i mean he was mad. >> reporter: because you weren't fema. >> because i didn't have any help with me. i had questions. and so he was angry. h walked away. and within seconds, a woman came out of nowhere and just hugged me. she had no idea who i was. but i was the first outsider she had seen in days. >> reporter: couldn't you use national guardsmen in two-week rotations to come in? are you begging your bosses for more men? >> no, i'm not. >> reporter: why? >> because we have 4,500 coming in. >> reporter: when i met puerto rico's number two in command in puerto rico one month after the
12:06 am
storm, he told me he had 17,000 people working on the island. two weeks after the haiti quake, the u.s. had 22,000 troops on the ground in a foreign country. this is such a massive disaster, so much humanitarian need, shouldn't it be all hands on deck? that's what i'm hearing from the locals. >> we have all hands on deck at this time. >> reporter: an internal fema report would later reveal more than half of those 17,000 were untrained, unqualified, or didn't speak spanish. if you could go back in time the week before the storm, the month before the storm, what would you do differently? >> i would actually look at the plans, i would come in and talk to the commonwealth of puerto rico and revise the plans. >> reporter: do you think the puerto rican plans were bad or fema's plans were bad? >> our plans were the same plans because we developed the plans jointly with them. the puerto rican plans were done for the catastrophe in puerto rico.
12:07 am
they were based on history of disasters in puerto rico that were not catastrophic. >> but all the while, the commander in chief was assuring the nation that everything was under control. 13 days in, president trump visited guaynabo, a relatively wealthy suburb of san juan and far from the hardest hit area. >> i hate to tell you puerto rico but you've thrown our budget a little out of whack because we've spent a lot of money on puerto rico. >> reporter: and he was quick to add insult to injury, pointing out the island's history of weak infrastructure and enormous debt. >> every death is a horror. but if you look at a real catastrophe like katrina and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, what is your death count as of this moment? 17? >> 16 certified. >> 16 people certified. 16 people versus in the thousands. you can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together.
12:08 am
>> reporter: but given that hospitals remained dark, hot, and unsterile for weeks, given that hundreds of thousands were drinking dirty water and sleeping on soaking beds under broken roofs, few believed the body count could really be so low. >> and that sort of raised a lot of red flags for people. >> reporter: including cnn investigative reporter john sutter. >> because what we were hearing anecdotally was that there were hospitals where the morgues were overflowing with people. there were certain towns where the number of dead seemed to almost match the official count which then was 16. president trump leaves the island, the death count jumps to 34. but still, we weren't satisfied that that was the real flub. >> reporter: so john and leila assembled a team and started digging. >> so we started to call every single funeral home which proved to be a challenge because most of them didn't have power. they didn't have a telephone. and reaching only half the funeral homes, we realized there
12:09 am
were 500 deaths. that was nine-times what the government of puerto rico was reporting. early on we realized maybe we don't know the number but we know it ain't this. >> reporter: they would have to sue the puerto rican government for answers. and what they found brought outrage. why did it stay so low for so long? and were you pressured to keep it that way? cancer.
12:10 am
it's very personal. at cancer treatment centers of america, we use diagnostic tools that help us better understand what drives each person's cancer. like christine bray. after battling ovarian cancer for several years, her test results revealed a drug therapy that targeted her tumor. today, christine's metastatic cancer is in remission. we're not just fighting cancer. we're outsmarting it. visit appointments available now. about the colonial penn program. here to tell you if you're age 50-85
12:11 am
and looking to buy life insurance on a fixed budget, remember the three p's. the three what? the three p's? what are the three p's? the three p's of life insurance on a fixed budget are price, price, and price. a price you can afford, a price that can't increase, and a price that fits your budget. i'm 54 and i was a smoker but quit. alex, what's my price? you can get coverage for $9.95 a month. i'm 65, retired, and take medications. what's my price? also $9.95 a month. i just turned 80 and i'm on a fixed income. what's my price? $9.95 a month for you, too. if you're age 50 to 85, call now about the number one most popular whole life insurance plan available through the colonial penn program. it has an affordable rate starting at $9.95 a month. that's less than 35 cents a day. you cannot be turned down because of your health.
12:12 am
no medical exam, no health questions. your acceptance is guaranteed, and this plan has a guaranteed lifetime rate lock, so your rate can never go up for any reason. and with this plan, you can pick your payment date, so you can time your premium due date to work with your budget. options start at $9.95 a month, plus, you get a 30-day money back guarantee. so call now for free information. and you'll also get this free beneficiary planner, and it's yours just for calling. so call now.
12:13 am
what lessons do we take from what happened in puerto rico? how do we apply the lessons is we learned from puerto rico? >> i think puerto rico was incredibly successful. i actually think it was one of the best jobs that's ever been done with respect to what there is all about. i think that puerto rico was an incredible, unsung success. texas we have been given a-pluses for. florida we've been given a-pluses for. i think in a certain way the best job we did was puerto rico but nobody would understand that. i mean it's harder to understand. >> reporter: what is even harder to understand is how the president could say such a thing on the very same day we discovered this staggering example of failure and waste.
12:14 am
>> how do you explain the millions of bottles of watered we found sitting on a runway? >> well, that's part of the operation that we had to provide in puerto rico. we had excess water when we actually got to the beginning of the year because we were bringing in massive amounts of food and water to the island. >> reporter: after fema initially blamed local authorities for failing to distribute, they now admit they simply brought in too much water too late. >> we're investigating also how we got to this page because that's a big lesson learned. >> reporter: but less important than the millions of dollars wasted is knowing how many lives that water could have saved. and you uncovered there outbreak of a waterborne illness that people should have known about in realtime. >> yeah, it's this disease called leptospirosis. >> reporter: it is caused by drinking water tainted with animal waste which countless folks were forced to consume in all those months of broken pipes and powerless pumps. >> that's how had we sued for
12:15 am
the documents, we didn't know there was either an outbreak or an epidemic that the government still has not acknowledged occurred in that magnitude. we ran these documents by a number of epidemiologists, experts in this field, and they were frankly stunned by the number of cases that were showing up and how fatal this disease was. >> reporter: our team also noticed that specific individuals who definitely died in the storm were not counted in the official toll. like jose pepe sanchez. >> gentleman is at a home. he has a stroke. the person with him calls 911. 911 says we can't get to him in time because 150-mile-per-hour winds are pounding us right now. is that a hurricane related death? >> absolutely. >> allow me to introduce you to jose pepe. that was his case. >> and you're the first person the first media outlet and i'll say it publicly that brings in information for us to verify.
12:16 am
>> but is that the media's job or is that your job? >> so it's our job to take care of 2,900 bodies during every month to see that the doctor, the doctors certify that the deaths occur in the way that it happened. >> but later on when we were looking at the official list, pepe's name wasn't on there. so i challenged them again. i said well, where's pepe? they ended up taking off someone from the list to add pepe. >> reporter: so the number would stay the same? >> they wouldn't admit that but that's happened, yes. >> reporter: wow. >> so there was there -- this desire to not touch that number 64. >> reporter: the department of health now insists it was just a mistake. americans generally respond to big problems in big ways. but when the official death toll is a few dozen which is you know an average tornado or something,
12:17 am
that sets certain expectations. and meanwhile everybody on this island knew it would be in the thousands, not the dozens. why did it stay so low for so long and were you pressured to keep it that way for any political reason? >> no, not at all. not at all. i was not pressured we had to execute a protocol. again, there was a new platform for us and we had lost every -- every way, shape, or form of communicating. so what we did was we employed a protocol from the cdc which, as you stated, it was very low. every time i gave a death count i would say that this number is likely going to be much higher. and at that point, i decided to stop the count which was at around 64. because it really wasn't working. >> reporter: the governor then asked public health scientists at george washington university to explore how many excess deaths happened in the six months after maria. their estimate?
12:18 am
2,975. a death toll jump of more than 4,500%. that number would include people like miguel maldonado santana, a u.s. veteran who drove off a washed out bridge in pitch darkness. and atalia rodriguez whose breathing machine quit when his family's generator ran out of gas. >> if we had electricity, normal electricity at that time, he could be alive still today. >> reporter: how many applications have you received for funeral assistance? >> right now, i have about 2,235 total cases that have provided me death certificates. >> reporter: do you suspect people are trying to game that system to get money that they don't deserve? >> not really. not really. >> reporter: so, fema and puerto rico's governor now say they have proof that thousands, not
12:19 am
dozens, but thousands of americans died, making this storm the deadliest in modern history. but the president tweeted that the numbers have been fudged by democrats. to make him look bad. president trump wants to cast doubt on that number. he says it's manufactured for political reasons. while giving the response an a-plus saying it was an unsung success. your response. >> you can't disagree with facts. you can't disagree with science. and in my view and as a scientist, this was a very robust scientific process. number one, number two, you know, the people of puerto rico and the victims should not have their pain questioned. >> reporter: do you think more puerto ricans would be alive today with a different leadership in washington? >> i think there's another underlying problem and it is important that we talk about this because it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. and it's the fact that puerto rico is a colonial territory of the united states.
12:20 am
the difference between the response to texas, florida, and puerto rico, and there was a difference, was that we're treated as second-class citizens. it's plain and simple. >> reporter: fema's own statistics show that by nine days after their storms, texas and florida had received twice the water and four-times the amount of food and tarps. to be fair, unlike those states, americans can't drive to puerto rico to help. and the island's second-class infrastructure made logistics so much harder. but who's to blame for that? >> why wasn't prepa more prepared if he knew how vulnerable the system was? >> reporter: and after the storm, when the grid needed fixing, why did puerto rico offer $300 million to a tiny company from montana? how the hell did you get this contract? we'll keep digging when "storm of controversy" continues.
12:21 am
12:22 am
12:23 am
12:24 am
when your power is out for days, a man on a line should be a sign of hope. but when the power was out for
12:25 am
the better part of a year in puerto rico, a man on a line could also be a sign of desperation. [ speaking foreign language ] >> he says they're repairing the power themselves because they're almost at nine months without power and they feel abandoned. >> reporter: leyla found charlie reyes taking matters into his own hands. he had no electrical experience. and was using scraps of wire taken from fallen poles. but he still did for his community what officials could not. he got the lights back on. >> yay. >> you get a little emotional about it. >> oh, yeah. do you know how long i don't see the light in my house? nine months. nine months.
12:26 am
>> reporter: at first, it looked like these guys would be the saviours. pros from the mainland who claimed to have the skills to string power over mountains and through jungles. how the hell did you get this contract? you're a brand-new company, right? >> we've been around for a few years. >> reporter: but when people learned that puerto rico's bankrupt power utility prepa had given a tiny montana company a $300 billion contract, they got suspicious. the head of whitefish energy negotiated that deal over the phone while the storm was still blowing. a deal that seemed to pay him many times the going rate for men and equipment. when the governor and fema found out, he was fired. >> everyone used that as sort of a symbol of what was going wrong down here at the federal level but what was happening with prepa?
12:27 am
>> right. the power authority, prepa who actually has a good grasp on this island, they know the land, they know the challenges, lost control and it went to the arm corps of engineers. >> this area is going to be down for a little while fortrist night why wasn't prepa more prepared if they knew how vulnerable the system was? >> because in the power system, vulnerabilities you don't fix in one day. you don't fix in one week. you don't fix in one month. you don't fix in one year. it takes ten years to fix the vulnerabilities that the prepa system had. >> reporter: ricardo ramos was the head of prepa who gave whitefish that contract and then stepped down amid scandal. he tells leyla he would do it all over again.
12:28 am
because whitefish had a bargeful of men and equipment impossible to find after harvey and irma. they didn't ask for any money up front. and prepa an records now show they ultimately repaired five transmission lines, cheaper and faster than other contractors. >> so are you saying that essentially ending the contract with whitefish delayed power restoration. >> certainly. the news of whitefish came out. everybody got scared including fema. fema tells me i'm not going to reimburse you anymore. i'm in chapter 9, you know, prepa is. people assume the worst and they stopped me right there. >> reporter: jose ortiz is the new head of prepa. and lessons learned he says if the island gets hit again, he has 32 power companies lined up ready to help. >> why didn't puerto rico do that for maria? >> they did too late. they did too late.
12:29 am
i don't think we were prepared. we didn't realize we needed to have inventory, manufacturing for a major catastrophe like there. a lot of mismanagement. >> reporter: but power was just one snafu. shelter was another. a month after the storm, i found anita sleeping on a bed soaked with rain water, the smell of mold thick in every room. what is your biggest frustration today? what do you need more than anything else? >> blue tarp. >> reporter: blue tarps, the mayor told me. i need a thousand. it's been raining a lot. operation blue roof was supposed to fill that need. but when cnn investigative reporter john sutter dug into arm corps of engineers' records, he found nearly 50,000 requests for tarps still unfilled almost three months after the storm.
12:30 am
including carman, who had broken her arm sweeping water out of her living room. [ speaking foreign language ] >> i tweeted about her situation and the next day the army corps came and put a tarp on her roof which they called like a spectacular coincidence. there were people waiting all across the island for this basic thing which was a dry place to sleep. >> reporter: carman was eventually one of the lucky ones. almost a year after maria, she finally got an actual roof. but there are tens of thousands still waiting in line.
12:31 am
look at this. i mean, this is the kind of scene i'm used to seeing maybe a month of after a storm. two months after? this is a year later. you're still living like this. >> like it was yesterday. yeah. >> reporter: wow. wilfredo cruz filled out his paperwork months ago and heard a lot of promises unfulfilled. today when it starts raining, do you get worried? >> it's not raining, forget it. when it start raining, the water drop down here. >> reporter: while the puerto rican government is set to receive $20 billion in federal funding to rebuild, homeowners like wilfredo will likely have to move somewhere less vulnerable to get their share. to meet these massive needs, fema headquarters in san juan is packed and buzzing these days as if the storm was still blowing.
12:32 am
>> i have people working here that don't have power still. the disaster survivors that their house is leaking, that the house doesn't have a roof. and we're working with them day to day because they're committed to this. >> reporter: back in washington, d.c., the head of fema, brock long, told me that he understands the frustrations. but in a new normal of more frequent, more powerful storms, americans should adjust their expectations and become a lot more self-sufficient. >> anytime fema is the first responder and the primary responder like we were in puerto rico, it's never an ideal situation. but i do believe you know, for example, with puerto rico that we kept that island from complete and total collapse. >> reporter: you think so? >> i do. >> yeah. >> yeah. >> fema come here three weeks later the hurricane. going up for the people, not fema. the people working here with your hands, they're children, they're old lady, old men working together with machete in
12:33 am
hand. >> reporter: but the mayor of utuado bristles at the idea his town of 35,000 would have collapsed without the feds. you want a lesson in self-sufficiency he says? come here. >> it's disrespectful that fema say the people of utuado crying to fema. we survive with fema, with no fema, with government, with no government. the people lost everything will survive. >> reporter: we will survive, he says. good luck. >> okay. >> reporter: but how can puerto ricans on an even smaller island survive? next up, a trip to a blacked out paradise.
12:34 am
you always get the lowest price on our rooms, guaranteed?m let's get someone to say it with a really low voice. carl? lowest price guaranteed. what about the world's lowest limbo stick? how low can you go? nice one, carl. hey i've got an idea. just say, badda book. badda boom. badda book. badda boom. nice. always the lowest price, guaranteed. book now at
12:35 am
12:36 am
12:37 am
this is a reunion flight with an angel. >> a little bit different flying out of here now than a year ago. >> reporter: oh, yeah, definitely. >> remember the tension in the voice of the air traffic controllers. >> reporter: his name is steven pauly. and in the days after maria knocked out all the island's radar, he volunteered to put his plane and himself at risk to fly me to vieques. >> the air space is so crazy.
12:38 am
it's actually dangerous right now. >> and on this former navy bombing range turned sleepy paradise, where glow-in-the-dark plankton -- >> three, two, one. >> reporter: draws tourists from around the world. >> so beautiful, man. >> reporter: -- we found that near 200-mile-an-hour winds had turned just about everything upside down. planes, boats -- >> we're out of food. we're running out of food and water. >> reporter: and thousands of human lives. >> we decided the most important thing was to establish communications. >> reporter: until another angel named robert becker brought in a bag of satellite phones, the island went six days without outside contact. >> oh, my god. >> reporter: it crushes
12:39 am
your soul to watch that and this is the line. this is a two-hour line of folks waiting to give proof of life to a wife or a husband or a father. it's rough. >> i just need to tell my mom i'm okay. do you have her number? >> in this is where i first met britney who moved here from brooklyn a few years ago and was among those learning that atms are worthless when society is broken. >> thank you. i love you, bye. >> everything's going to be all right. okay. >> they won't let us get money. i can't use my debit card so we're all screwed. i don't know what to do. >> reporter: a few bucks. oh, my god. a year later. >> i'm really glad you got to come back down. >> reporter: she's back because this is home. >> i wanted to give this to you, as well. >> reporter: no, no, no.
12:40 am
you keep it. >> it was a loan. i appreciate it so very much. absolutely. i paid back everyone else who let me borrow money and i wanted to get you, as well. we went to the states for a few months to recuperate. we spent maybe five months. why would you go back? is everything better now in no, everything's not that good but it's home and when you go through something like that you definitely feel it with the people around you that everyone is in it together. >> reporter: how would you grade the government response? >> do i have to get political? i think our government there wasn't much of a response. i know the first people that started to come in, i think the humane society was here first thing. they were here immediately right about when you guys got here. >> reporter: they were the first responders. >> they were the first wave in. >> reporter: they came for pets. >> helped animals. >> reporter: didn't realize people need diapers and water. while many of puerto rico's resorts are open and eager for business, the w hotel vieques, once one of the nicest in the caribbean, is still deserted. the owners say they want to open as soon as possible, but here
12:41 am
possible is limited by no hospital, no reliable ferry and a lack of real power. with a line to the main island broken, the only thing keeping the lights on are diesel generators, on loan by fema. >> we are powered by diesel which is oil, which is burning, which is not efficient, which is contaminating. >> reporter: expensive. >> extremely expensive. we're talking $500,000 a month. >> reporter: just for this? >> yeah. so they're not reliable. but on top of that, if our supply chain which is a maritime ferry gets caught up, we have no fuel again. >> reporter: after tesla set up a small solar project here, there is hope that the u.s. will spend the millions to replace these generators with a smart grid powered by renewable energy. >> i think if the electric company of puerto rico has a chance to go that route and then replicate that in other municipalities in puerto rico, i think it is also something that
12:42 am
could show the world okay, it's -- we have to start looking at how we live completely different. >> reporter: but those are grand hopes in a place where so much still depends on the kindness of neighbors. steven, you want to give this a shot? >> yeah. >> reporter: since he was your angel pilot, this would be fitting. > wee. >> reporter: when steven was using his plane to ferry pregnant women to doctor visits he met staff sergeant rita maldonado, a pennsylvania native who earned a purple heart fighting in afghanistan and iraq and moved to vieques to become a dance instructor. but now most days she heads into town with her partner alex to find fresh water and then rumble back up to their little hillside farm. they have horses, a jerry rigged fan for little david, and after maria washed away their home, not much else.
12:43 am
when we came back you know, a year after to check in and see sort of the state of folks and how they're holding up and here we find a decorated combat veteran with a brand-new baby living in a tent. >> yep. >> reporter: that sort of speaks volumes, huh? >> it's an interesting position to be in right now. >> reporter: and how do you grade the american response to this tragedy on this island? >> oh, that's a tough one. geez, let's see. facebook response was great i'm sure. like a lot of people cared, right? yeah, i would grade it pretty poorly. yeah, it was not a very good -- definitely wasn't houston. >> reporter: are you trying to get help from fema or -- through the v.a.? >> i did attempt the va at first an individual came forward and said hey, look, okay, we got you. you're totally taken care of. we're going to help you out.
12:44 am
there's an organization helping you and then they invited me to a meeting and one pulled me aside and said check it out. we can't get you a house but we can give you this gift card. >> reporter: this is the house in progress. >> this is the house in progress. >> and alex is doing it all by himself. >> reporter: alex is doing this all by himself. day by day, bit by bit. >> reporter: if there are any angels with bricklaying experience watching, they could definitely use a hand because they wake every day and worry about the weather in ways we can't imagine. what happens during there hurricane season? is this all you have, this tent pretty much? >> yeah. that tent goes away, we're back at square one. if that thing goes away, the things inside of it are what i have. >> reporter: that's everything you own. >> yep, yep. >> reporter: but they are just one family among thousands, from the island to the mainland with no safe place to call home.
12:45 am
which leads to another kind of slow motion disaster we've uncovered here. one that is hard to see but will be felt for a generation. i'm alex trebek here to tell you
12:46 am
about the colonial penn program. if you're age 50-85 and looking to buy life insurance on a fixed budget, remember the three p's. the three what? the three p's? what are the three p's? the three p's of life insurance on a fixed budget are price, price, and price. a price you can afford, a price that can't increase, and a price that fits your budget. i'm 54 and i was a smoker but quit. alex, what's my price? you can get coverage for $9.95 a month. i'm 65, retired, and take medications. what's my price? also $9.95 a month. i just turned 80 and i'm on a fixed income. what's my price? $9.95 a month for you, too. if you're age 50 to 85, call now about the number one most popular
12:47 am
whole life insurance plan available through the colonial penn program. it has an affordable rate starting at $9.95 a month. that's less than 35 cents a day. you cannot be turned down because of your health. no medical exam, no health questions. your acceptance is guaranteed, and this plan has a guaranteed lifetime rate lock, so your rate can never go up for any reason. and with this plan, you can pick your payment date, so you can time your premium due date to work with your budget. options start at $9.95 a month, plus, you get a 30-day money back guarantee. so call now for free information. and you'll also get this free beneficiary planner, and it's yours just for calling. so call now.
12:48 am
hola. >> reporter: it's been quite a year since i first met deand aponte. her little home was my very first stop after the storm. her street lush and tidy now, was brown and broken when we
12:49 am
arrived. she showed us video of the neighbor's motor home being tossed like a toy. and i met her husband, 75-year-old combat vet named miguel. which is scarier, combat in vietnam or hurricane maria? >> the hurricane was worse. >> reporter: they were down to his last vial of insulin spoiling in a powerless fridge and they were worried. wow, that's a good sign. look at that. they've got it back up. but a month later, a happy twist. you remember me? the veterans administration saw our story. sent plenty of medicine and dianna was excited by the prepa crew raising that fallen tower topped with the puerto rican flag. but on there visit, while her kind warmth remains, the love of her life is gone. two months after the storm, on their 50th wedding anniversary, miguel passed away.
12:50 am
she talks to his picture every day. and is so grateful for the respect shown by fellow veterans, but then she makes me coffee and i ask her about president trump. what did you think he just tweeted today the president said that 3,000 people didn't die, that the politicians made it up to make him look bad. there's something evil in him, she says. people are still dying. how could he doubt that so many died? it's there. everybody knows it. as i suffer, many other families are still suffering. you can't compare him with a human being. he's heartless, he's worthless. she's just one example of an island in mourning. >> how many of you think about hurricane maria every day?
12:51 am
>> reporter: a survive of 60,000 public schoolkids found rates of depression in kids is twice the amount as normal. suicide attempts jumped 50% last year. and calls to one national suicide hotline tripled over the year before. [ speaking foreign language ] >> so, he says in one eight-hour shift, he will take a call like that 30, 40 times. >> reporter: so, it's no surprise that hundreds of thousands have simply left. and among that exodus, there's a mom. >> it's overwhelming.
12:52 am
>> reporter: she brought her two youngest kids to orlando, where fema helped her with a hotel room. her nursing degree gave her hope she would find a good enough job to get her own place. but florida wouldn't honor her credentials. so she cleans rooms at a resort. >> florida board of nursing told me i needed an english competency test. because i studied in puerto rico. >> reporter: after months of scraping by, she learns that fema's help has run out. and worries about her and her kids ending up on the street. >> at this point, i'm, like, where? i don't even know. >> these families are at a breaking point. katrina families received 24 months of federal assistance. and they had programming
12:53 am
activated to get them out of hotels, out of temporary housing, into permanent housing situations. >> reporter: you got a lot of folks living in hotel rooms in orlando, that's expiring this week. what happens to them? who is responsible for those folks? >> the governor is the only one that can ask, and that was given for puerto rico, in puerto rico. so, i have programs of assistance. >> reporter: yes, she's an american citizen, being told that fema will help her, but only if she goes back to the disaster zone. >> they're being seen as immigrants. you don't immigrate from one state to another. you know, you don't immigrate from new york to orlando. you move from new york to orlando. you move from san juan to orlando. [ speaking foreign language ] >> reporter: she's grateful to folks like father jose and the
12:54 am
hispanic federation for giving $45,000 to 45 families so they can stay just a bit longer. but she's also deeply frustrated with her country. >> it's funny, being in florida, i've been amazed. they've actually asked me, so you guys are americans? and then you being treated like you're something else, it's, wow. i get goose bumps. i do. i get goose bumps when i got asked that question for the first time. >> in terms of the response, in terms of the unnecessary bureaucracy, in terms of the lack of urgency, it's my view that being a colonial territory and being second-class citizens is what happened.
12:55 am
>> i was joking with the humor after watching the president's tweets, he would probably let somebody buy puerto rico, and throw in guam or something. >> that could actually happen. the truth of the matter, we are a possession of the united states, and they can do with their possessions what they want. >> reporter: what gives you the most hope? >> the thing i'm proudest of, the world got to see the heart, resiliency, and strength of the people of puerto rico. it's because of that capacity to fight, and holding hope to rebuild for a better future, that just tells me that if we do this rebuild the right way, you're going to see a very different, very positive puerto rico here. and it's going to be a model all around the world. >> few things reveal a society's
12:56 am
values like a disaster. they provide a stress test of a nation's strength, smarts and how we count the dead and measure the costs. shapes the way the we brace for the next big, bad day. while some in power say there are no lessons to be learned, there are millions in puerto rico tonight hoping their countrymen feel differently. they're hoping you'll come down and see how hard they're fighting, and how far they've come. that you'll soak up the beauty, share a few good meals, and prove that when things get bad, americans stick together.
12:57 am
12:58 am
12:59 am
1:00 am
a woman accusing the supreme court nominee of sexual assault now has more time to decide if she wants to testify before lawmakers. we have the story for you. of courses say fbi memos show the u.s. deputy attorney general discussed secretly recording the u.s. president. what rod rosenstein is saying about this stunning report. and british prime minister demanding respect. r-e-s-p-e-c-t. theresa may's criticism from you european leaders over brexit. >> that is all


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on