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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – More than 120 days have passed since Hurricane Maria gutted Puerto Rico and the recovery effort is far from done.
“It’s bad. It really is. There are portions that you would think, OK, everything is back to normal,” Robert Mangino said.
Mangino has been to the island three times since September. This time, he spoke with the mayor of the capital city.
“She is a lightning rod. We see here in the news stories and interviews and she will call out — and she is very bold and she is very brave — but she has a love for the people of Puerto Rico like no one else I met on the island,” Mangino said.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz is a Carnegie Mellon University graduate. She made national news with scathing criticism of the Trump administration’s hurricane response. Yet, she is quick to acknowledge the critical help received from the city where she went to school.
“If the American people have forgotten us, if the David Begnauds and the KDKAs would have forgotten us, a lot more people would have died,” Carmen Yulin Cruz said.
Mangino knows their struggle is far from done. It will be months before power is fully restored. Many have no drinking water. Homes were destroyed by the thousands. People live in makeshift buildings, some with only three walls. Yet, the Puerto Rican spirit did not waver.
“They are all victims of this horrible hurricane, but they all see themselves as not being as bad off as somebody else — and the people that I encountered stepped up and rose to the occasion,” Mangino said.
Seeing it firsthand broke his heart, but Mangino is proud of how Pittsburgh continues to help a nation that won’t quit.
“It isn’t the smiles of the ones we got to. It’s the quiet tears of the ones we haven’t gotten to that still have to make us push on,” he said.