Thursday, 5 October 2017

The two Puerto Ricos. In downtown San Juan Starbucks is booming and even the strip club is back. But just 15 miles away there will be no power until FEBRUARY and there are still lines for food aid (26 Pics)

  • San Juan is coming close to normality two weeks after Hurricane Maria devastate Puerto Rico - but the rest of the island is far behind 

  • The city's downtown shopping malls are back to normal and Christmas decorations are on sale at Sears 

  • But in Loiza, just 15 miles away, FEMA's one aid delivery long ran out and there are lines for a private delivery of assistance 

  • 'I spoke with someone from the authorities and the electricity should be coming back next February,' says Orlando Carcano, 31

  • A huge line greeted Carlos Duenas, 46, the boss of a logistics firm with bases in Miami who shipped in nine trailers of supplies to Loiza  

  • Getting back to business: In the Plaza Las Américas, there is no sign of the destruction which hit Puerto Rico - but that is hardly representative of the island

    Grim reality: This is life in Loiza, where a Miami-based businessman brought nine trailers of aid to help the city, creating a line which stretched the length of the soccer field

    Everyday life: For people visiting the Starbucks in the Plaza Las Américas, the biggest mall on the island, there is the chance to have a normal American experience - unlike the rest of the island

    Recharging: Many of the visitors to the mall are taking advantage of the chance to sit in air-conditioning and make phone calls - something impossible elsewhere

    Phone service: Wifi in the mall is good enough for people to make calls to family and friends and even watch sports on livestreaming

    No more lines: The Santander in the mall is in stark contrast to the massive lines which led to the island coming close to a cash shortage

    Normal scene: While the rest of the island is suffering, San Juan's life is becoming increasingly like any other American city

    Beginning to feel a lot like Christmas: In the Sears which is one of the mall's anchor stores, Jose Colon was getting the Christmas decorations prepared

    Traffic is back: The streets of San Juan are getting back to normal too  - but Maria knocked out lights at many intersections 

    Police step in: Officers are now directing traffic because stop lights are no longer working - but the lines which plagued San Juan gas stations have been lifted

    Ordinary day at the mall: The normality is welcome for Jose Marin, a valet at Plaza Las Américas

    David Hernandez, 27, and Tatiana Merced, 28, who enjoyed Starbucks and air conditioning 

    Grim reality: In Loiza, this is the line for the aide brought to the city of 36,000 not by FEMA, but by private donor Carlos Duenas, who runs a logistics firm

    All that's left: The two aid containers left by FEMA are now empty in Loiza and left standing in the town

    Waiting to help: Municipal workers are waiting to distribute aid in Loiza where the town of 36,000 is not expected to have power until February. 

    Logistics firm boss Carlos Duenas brought nine trailers to help

    Impact: A destroyed shop in Loiza is one of many which were hit first by Irma then by Maria

    Uninhabitable: Abigail Lopez, 46, inside her destroyed home in Loiza, Puerto Rico just two weeks after the passing of Hurricane Maria. 

    All that's left: 'Irma came by and took half the roof off,' says Abigail Lopez, 46. 'We just had time to rebuild it before Maria tore the entire roof off.' 

    Damage: Scenes like this are all too common in Loiza, where aid is a scarce commodity

    Little left: The destruction which hit Loiza has scarred the city of 36,000, which was already struggling with poverty

    At least the horse has food: Loiza was badly hit by the hurricane but life is going on for one animal. 

    Warning: Carlos Osorio, 14, (right) said: 'We just ride around on our bikes and kill mosquitoes. We have board games, not video games,' he says. His friend Gregory Acevedo, 16, warns: 'People are getting upset, fights are breaking out - it's going to get crazy. If we had power we wouldn't waste it on fairy lights and Christmas trees.'

    Reality: Carlos Figueroa, 35, gets his haircut by Roberto Rodriguez, 23, in Humacao, Puerto Rico just two weeks after the passing of Hurricane Maria. The barbers are cutting hair outside because there is no light inside their shop.

    No other place to call home: Some people are camping out on the San Juan beach front after losing their homes

    Digging out: Juan Rivera's beachfront cafe's parking lot has been buried in 4ft of sand since Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20. 'Bring me an extra shovel not a cappuccino,' he tells .

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