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Mon May 6, 2019, 01:42 PM

'The colony within the colony': Puerto Rico fumes as FEMA deliberates over remote hospital

Source: Washington Post

‘The colony within the colony’: Puerto Rico fumes as FEMA deliberates over remote hospital

By Jeff Stein and Dennis M. Rivera May 6 at 11:41 AM

VIEQUES, PUERTO RICO — Sylvia Velez woke up at 4 a.m. one day in February to catch the ferry from this isolated island community to a hospital on the main island of Puerto Rico.

But when she arrived at the dock, Velez, 64, discovered the boat was already filled. There wasn’t space for her on the next ferry, either, or the one after that.

The cancer patient waited 32 straight hours — sleeping in her car, snacking on chips and soda from the vending machine, going to the bathroom off the side of the road — before securing a spot on the ferry that took her across the water and then to her doctor in San Juan.

Velez’s struggle to secure medical treatment reflects one of the many ways residents of Vieques, and Puerto Rico more broadly, have been frustrated with the pace of federal disaster recovery and its implications for their health.

More than 19 months after Hurricane Maria hit in September 2017, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has not decided whether to reconstruct Vieques’s only hospital amid conflicting estimates about how much the federal government is required to rebuild.

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Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/06/colony-within-colony-puerto-rico-fumes-fema-deliberates-over-remote-hospital/

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