Puerto Rico, still reeling from Maria, casts weary eye on looming storm season

LOIZA, Puerto Rico (WABC) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo is back in Albany after a quick one-day visit to Puerto Rico over the weekend, but the work there continues after Hurricane Maria devastated the island seven months ago.

Eyewitness News anchor Joe Torres is in Puerto Rico, where there is still much to be done, especially in the smaller communities .

One week after Hurricane Maria destroyed his home, Jose Lacen, his brother and his father started to rebuild. Now, only a month before hurricane season, the work goes on with progress slow.

The ocean-side municipality of Loiza sits on Puerto Rico's north shore, east of San Juan. It's a poor fishing community known for beautiful beaches and mouth-watering seafood.

In the town square though, men eagerly talk about the brutal reality of life on the island after Maria.

"The biggest problem we have is that the majority of street lights don't work," resident Pablo Rodriguez said. "It's tremendously dangerous."

FEMA is still in the area providing assistance, but the people of Loiza -- and much of Puerto Rico -- fear they are not ready for another major storm.

"We hope there's not another storm like this one," Rafael Casillas said. "Because if not, we're fried."

The Puerto Rico Governor's Office announced Monday that the island will be receiving $589 million in federal disaster assistance from the US Department of Education. The federal agency announced it they would be disbursing approximately $693 million to California, Puerto Rico and Texas to assist in the rebuilding process of the education system.

"This economic injection by the federal government will be key in the recovery process for the Department of Education," Governor Ricardo Rossello said. "It will benefit both the teaching staff, the student body and the non-teaching staff to fully recover the normality in the education that is taught in the education system."

The Puerto Rico Department of Education told ABC News in recent weeks that 283 schools are slated to close because of declining student enrollment following Hurricane Maria. A spokesperson for the department says that there are 319,000 students on the island compared to 346,000 enrolled students as of May 2017. The department projects that there will be 311,000 enrolled students this August. Half of schools on the island are at 60 percent of capacity.

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