Resilience is a term that’s talked about a lot today. But to see its human face, look no further than the 3.4 million residents of Puerto Rico. ENR’s Managing Editor Scott Blair and Energy and Environment Editor Pam Radtke Russell traveled to the island recently to find out how the territory is recovering six months after Hurricane Maria. They found unexpected levels of devastation everywhere they traveled. House after destroyed house, boarded up hotels, paint literally “blown off” buildings, as one contractor put it. Downed power lines and people still living “off the grid”—with or without generators—were everywhere.
Workers commented more than once that if residents on the mainland had been without power for half a year, “there would be rioting in the streets.” But in Puerto Rico, the people were patient and welcoming. In the mountain town of Naranjito, a woman offered lunch to the ENR editors at her home, where she was already feeding a dozen power-restoration workers from across the U.S.
A few houses away, Jackeline Rivera has lived with her husband and three children, ages 13, 15 and 16, without any power or potable water for six months. A small creek supplies water for washing, cooking and showering.
“It’s hard, but we are adapting,” Rivera said. She voiced no complaints about the slowness of recovery; she only had hope that it would get better. “We’re working to have a better life every day. Other people lost more than us. We have family. We have each other.”
Another compelling story in this week’s issue is on our cover: “Faces of Uncertainty,” which narrates the still-unfolding news of how unsettled Trump administration immigration policy affects construction’s immigrant workforce. Challenges to both those with protected and those with undocumented status are causing disruptions at a time of severe labor shortages, resulting in significant impacts for employers and for project delivery. Correspondent Bruce Buckley delivered the striking photographs of TPS-protected union workers Lorena Berrios and her son Isrrael Rodriguez on the cover and inside. He joined Editor-at-Large Debra K. Rubin and others in reporting impacts to and reactions from other industry participants and observers.
Related Article: Six Months Later, Puerto Rico Recovery Inches On