Puerto Rico residents cope with Maria devastation ahead of Trump visit

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (WSVN) — Rescue and relief efforts continue to pour into Puerto Rico as the island attempts to recover from devastation caused by Hurricane Maria and prepares for a visit from President Donald Trump.

Nearly 40 miles from San Juan, in the town of Loíza, power lines lie on the streets as locals stood in line to fill gas containers.

Residents told 7News the storm ripped about 1,000 roofs from homes in Loíza. Still, Yahaira is smiling, despite the fact that she must use a two-by-four to cross her kitchen.

Yahaira has no roof, no protection from the rain. There is no longer a ceiling covering her 3-year-old daughter’s bedroom.

Yahaira has taken to selling products in her front porch to bring in some money, but she won’t stay at her home overnight.

“Of course, she couldn’t be here without a roof,” said Diego Mendelbaum of the Jewish Community Center of Puerto Rico as he pointed at Yahaira’s home. “She’s not in a public shelter. She’s staying with a relative.”

The section of Loíza’s 23rd District where Yahaira lives is nearly abandoned, with the exception of an occasional police patrol, a few people who stayed behind and their pets.

7News cameras showed a funeral procession driving down a street gave the area the most activity on Monday afternoon.

Many people in this community haven’t had power restored since Hurricane Irma, and because of that long-term lack of electricity, as well as water, many residents haven’t even come home from the shelters.

Mendelbaum and the Jewish Community Center of Puerto Rico have adopted this town. Those residents who do work are often part-timers.

“These people have not been generating money for three weeks, at least,” said Mendelbaum.

When asked how hard Loíza was hit by Maria, Mendelbaum replied, “As much as almost every single place in the island.”

Whether Trump’s upcoming visit to Puerto Rico will bring more awareness to towns like Loíza is still unclear.

“I’ve never seen the community like this,” said community activist Sonia Martinez through a translator.

Residents were seen trying to patch up their homes. Others are still living in houses that are half blown away.

Several residents asked a 7News crew whether they were from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Trump is scheduled to touch down in Puerto Rico on Tuesday.

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