Puerto Rico economic crisis grows in wake of Maria’s human toll – Chicago Tribune

All of Puerto Rico has lost electricity. Entire towns are swamped in the deluge. Streets have become rivers and trees have crushed homes.

Hurricane Maria is Puerto Rico’s worst in nearly a century, a double blow as it follows the destructive Hurricane Irma by just two weeks. The costs, both human and financial, have only begun to come into view. This much is certain: the U.S. territory, bankrupted by runaway debt, now confronts an even deeper economic crisis.

Four months after the island’s government sought protection from creditors in the nation’s largest municipal insolvency, the odds of a speedy resolution now appear to be dimming. President Donald Trump said Thursday he plans to visit the island and declared Puerto Rico a disaster zone, which helps clear the way for federal assistance.

Puerto Rico has been “absolutely obliterated” by Maria, Trump told reporters in New York, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly. Catastrophic flooding is still occurring, the National Weather Service said. As of 8 a.m., Hurricane Maria had killed 10 people across the Caribbean, the Associated Press reported.


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