Puerto Rican community of Loiza hosts memorial for 1-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria

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Joe Torres is in Puerto Rico ahead of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria.

Like many other Puerto Rican communities, Loiza will host a memorial and remembrance service Thursday morning to mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria.

Community leader Cesar Osorio said organizers planned the event to do more than just honor the 2,975 souls lost in the storm.

"Those people who were there with us," the 71-year-old Loiza native said. "We have to tell them, we have to put our arms around them and say, thanks for being there for us."

Nor far away, the sights and sounds of restoration filled the ocean air. Highway workers continue their year-long endeavor of patching holes and paving roads.

David Rosario and Bienvenidos Pena are renovating one of the many beach-side seafood kiosks that stood no chance against Maria's surge and hurricane-force winds.

The business owners there hope to re-open by the end of the month, effectively ending 12 months of lost income.

Back in the heart of Loiza, Veronica Cardona said she can relate to the financial setback. Hurricane Maria delayed the opening of her restaurant by 11 months, which made it challenging to provide for her 10-year-old daughter.

"I was unemployment, at home, every day, doing lines for buying water, buying food, buying everything for my baby...and my husband," Cardona said.

Although the island may never be the same, the storm certainly helped develop a profound sense of unity and solidarity between neighbors, friends and family.

Eyewitness News reporter Joe Torres is in Puerto Rico to cover the storm recovery one year later. CLICK HERE to view his reports, as well as other stories about Puerto Rico.

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