Roughly 1,800 caskets are still waiting to be reinterred after Hurricane Maria passed over Puerto Rico in 2017, triggering a landslide that broke hundreds of tombs, NPR reported.
The town of Lares, Puerto Rico, lost much of its cemetery to a landslide after the September 2017 storm. City officials locked the cemetery up and have not reopened it since. The damage has largely remained untouched. (RELATED: Taxpayers Are Paying Huge Sums To A System Of ‘Middlemen’ In Puerto Rico)
“My father is in there. My grandmother is in there,” Giovanni Ramirez Santiago told NPR. “The town can’t take this anymore.”
Most Puerto Ricans with friends and relatives entombed in the graveyard do not know whether their loved ones’ graves are part of those damaged and left in disrepair. More residents are complaining and demanding access to the tombs.
“We want to fix them up, take them flowers,” José Luis Rivera López, whose parents and sister are buried in the cemetery, told NPR. “But we can’t. If we cross the fence, they’ll arrest us.”
Even with aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Puerto Rico’s government has struggled to repair, or even patch, the massive amount of damage sustained by the island’s infrastructure.
Maria completely destroyed tens of thousands of homes and left hundreds of thousands more with major damage. The storm and its effects killed approximately 2,975 people, according to a George Washington University study. Most of Puerto Rico lost power and hundreds of thousands were left in the dark for months.
Wyoming GOP Sen. Michael Enzi, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, sent a letter to FEMA administrator Brock Long Nov. 29 after The New York Times reported that millions of dollars in aid is being lost in a system of contractors and subcontractors and large markups.
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