Torrential rains washed away weeks of clean-up and brought new problems for Puerto Ricans on Monday.
A small creek a few miles outside of San Juan became a raging river, picking up trees, pipes and rubble from a mountainside where they had been dumped after Hurricane Maria.
The debris added weight and force to a mudslide that took out a bridge in the Guaynabo neighborhood outside San Juan, stranding families who may now have to hike through mountainous, overgrown terrain to get food and water.
This is the working class part of the same neighborhood where President Trump tossed out rolls of paper towels earlier this month and then handed out lanterns, while telling people they did not need them any more.
Efrain Diaz saw the bridge tumble, and with it hopes for his business of restoring Corvettes. “Everything I’ve been struggling for all my life, all of a sudden is gone,” he said. The trailer where he stored parts was tossed in the mudslide and some of his cars totaled.
He and his wife Luz have had no power since Maria hit the island on September 20, and have been spending their savings on gas for the generator to keep the refrigerator on and Luz’s life-saving insulin fresh.
Diaz said he has seen no FEMA staff and no distribution of food, fuel or fresh water since Maria came ashore nearly four weeks ago.
When local mayor Angel Perez came by the neighborhood, Luz accused him of forgetting about them. “We need water,” she told him.
Perez had also been there when President Trump made a show of handing out supplies in the Calvary Chapel, and says that FEMA has helped. “It’s been slowly, but it’s there,” he said. “They have given us water, food, the tarps.”
But it’s not enough yet, he said. “We want more help,” Perez said. “We need more help.”
And now he has another wish, this time for the Army Corps of Engineers. His town needs a new bridge.