Puerto Ricanstruction: Investigative Report on Failures of FEMA | WBEZ
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Puerto Ricanstruction: Investigative Report on Failures of FEMA

Each Monday, during the 2018 hurricane season, Worldview presents a series called Puerto Ricanstruction. Three million American citizens on Puerto Rico still face catastrophe, many months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Experts predict just a “Category One” storm could wipe out power on the entire island for months. For this series, we discuss post-Maria life in Puerto Rico, and issues that matter to the people there, and to Chicago’s Puerto Rican Diaspora.  

In late June, FEMA announced its Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program for Texas and Puerto Rican residents affected by hurricanes Harvey and Maria, would end on June 30.  Last week, a Federal Judge extended the deadline to July 23rd. The program sought to give emergency support through hotel stays as a first step to longer-term housing. FEMA also offered one-way ticket vouchers to fly people back to Puerto Rico for resettlement.

A recent investigative report, co-written by Chicago-based reporter, Kari Lydersen, and Northwestern University Journalism Editor, Martha Bayne, asserts that TSA has been of little benefit to Puerto Ricans who resettled in Chicago. Lydersen also lectures at Northwestern University’s journalism graduate program, where she leads the social justice & investigative specialization. They, along with a group of Northwestern journalism students, went down to Puerto Rico to research the story. Lydersen, Bayne and Northwestern student, Hannah Wiley, join us to talk about what they report as FEMA’s failures to serve Puerto Ricans who found their way to Chicago after Hurricane Maria.

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