Puerto Rico | WAMC

Puerto Rico

view of a San Juan fort
Sarah LaDuke

Carmen Yulín Cruz served as the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico from 2013-2020. When Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico in 2017, she worked to support the millions of Puerto Ricans who were impacted by the hurricane and the long-term power outages.

She has received countless awards and recognition for her leadership during and after Hurricane Maria, including being named on the 2018 TIME Magazine list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Cruz served as Mayor through the end of 2020 and Cruz now serves as a Distinguished Fellow in Leadership at the Weissman Center at Mount Holyoke College.

We spoke with her last week at a Bennington College CAPA (Center for the Advancement of Public Action) event where we discussed climate justice, the role of women leaders especially during crisis, lessons learned from Hurricane Maria and Irma, and how climate change is leading to migration away from Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rican heritage celebration in Springfield
Paul Tuthill / WAMC

    History will be made in Springfield, Massachusetts today where the first person of Puerto Rican descent will be elected to the State Senate.

Courtesy of SUNY New Paltz

UNICEF and SUNY New Paltz are partnering to train mental health professionals in Puerto Rico.

This Sunday at 3 p.m. Albany Pro Musica presents the concert “The Americas, Land of Many Cultures” at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. The concert will feature José Daniel Flores-Caraballo and the Albany Pro Musica Concert Chorus; Camerata Coral – a guest chorus from Puerto Rico under the direction of Amarilis Pagán Vila; and Alturas Duo with Andean wind specialist Gonzalo Cortés.

Distinctive harmonies and thrilling rhythms will transport audiences on a journey celebrating diversity, multiculturalism, inclusiveness, and acceptance; the values that hold the Americas strong. The performance will pay homage to the musical heritage of the New World, featuring evocative music from North and South America and the Caribbean. We are joined by aforementioned Albany Pro Musica Conductor and Music Director José Daniel Flores-Caraballo and by Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. The Camerata Coral will perform a free concert in the Albany City Hall Rotunda on Monday, March 4 at 12:00 p.m.

Esmeralda Santiago, a founding mother of Nuyorican literature, was part of the University at Albany’s: The Creative Life: Conversation Series in the Fall of last year.

The eldest in a family of 11 children, Santiago came to the States from Puerto Rico at the age of 13. After eight years of part-time study in community colleges, she transferred to Harvard where she graduated magna cum laude. Santiago’s bestselling 1993 memoir, "When I Was Puerto Rican," was named one of the “Best Memoirs of a Generation” by Oprah’s Book Club. Her second memoir, "Almost a Woman" was adapted for Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. Her epic 2011 novel, "Conquistadora," set in 19th century Puerto Rico, was hailed as a “triumph” in The Washington Post.

The Creative Life series is a major arts initiative of the New York State Writers Institute, UAlbany Performing Arts Center and University Art Museum in conjunction with WAMC produced with major support from the University at Albany Foundation.

This conversation was recorded on November 8th, 2018 at the University at Albany Campus Center Ballroom.

The 2019 Hudson Jazz Festival at Hudson Hall in Hudson, New York is currated by Armen Donelian and will take place February 15-17. On Friday, February 15 at 7 p.m., jazz percussionist, composer, arranger and band leader Bobby Sanabria will bring his world-class ¡Quarteto Aché! to perform original compsistions and tunes the audience will recognize.

Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, as a high-end Category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 mph. According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the hurricane hit the island with the destructive force of a "50- to 60-mile-wide tornado.” Destroying the island’s power grid, and decimating the territory’s agricultural industries, the storm left a shattered infrastructure, a crippled economy, and numerous public health emergencies.

Tonight, a distinguished panel from diverse fields will address questions regarding the ongoing humanitarian crisis and its lessons for the future in an event presented by The New York State Writers Institute and cosponsored by the Journalism Program of the University at Albany Department of Communication. The event, entitled "The Lessons of Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico: The Hurricane, the Response, Preparing for Future Disasters," is free and open to the public and will take place at Page Hall on UAlbany’s Downtown Campus at 7:30 p.m.

One of the panelists is Robert Griffin - founding dean of the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity at the University at Albany, the first college of its kind in the nation.

Dean Griffin has a long career in homeland security at the Federal and local levels of government. He served as the acting undersecretary for Science and Technology at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the deputy undersecretary for Science and Technology, and director of the Science and Technology Directorate’s First Responders Group.

Esmeralda Santiago is a renowned writer of the Puerto Rican experience and a founding mother of Nuyorican literature.

Santiago’s bestselling 1993 memoir, "When I was Puerto Rican" was named one of the “Best Memoirs of a Generation” by Oprah’s Book Club. In 2018, it was one of five finalists for the “One Book, One New York” community-wide reading project. Her second memoir, "Almost a Woman" received the American Library Association’s Alex Award, and was adapted for Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. Her epic 2011 novel, "Conquistadora" received many praises in The Washington Post.

She will be in Albany, New York at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 8 at the University at Albany Campus Center Ballroom as part of The Creative Life Conversation Series.

The Creative Life series, a major arts initiative of the New York State Writers Institute, UAlbany Performing Arts Center and University Art Museum in conjunction with regional public radio station WAMC, brings leading figures from writing, music, dance, choreography, visual arts, architecture, theatre, and filmmaking to the University for conversation with Donahue about their creative inspiration, craft, and careers.


Connecticut is receiving a $750,000 federal grant to provide mental health support to families and especially children who were evacuated from their homes in Puerto Rico and have been living in Connecticut as a result of Hurricane Maria last September.


New York is dispatching more college students to help rebuild homes in Puerto Rico.

SUNY New Paltz Students Discuss Trip To Puerto Rico

Aug 10, 2018
Courtesy of SUNY New Paltz

Some students from the State University of New York at New Paltz travelled with a New York delegation to Puerto Rico in July for two weeks. They were there to rebuild homes following Hurricanes Maria and Irma nearly a year ago. The trip was part of the “New York Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative.” WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne spoke with a few of the students who lent a hand.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo during his latest trip to Puerto Rico
Twiiter: @NYGovCuomo

New York Governor Cuomo has finished his fifth trip to Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria stuck the island last September. The Democrat Tuesday announced a new agricultural trade agreement, and had some harsh words for President Trump.

Volunteers from SunCommon build a portable solar-powered trailer

A solar company in Vermont is building small trailers that will bring charging stations, water filtration and lighting to Puerto Rico, which remains devastated from Hurricane Maria nearly a year later.


A group of New York students and labor volunteers will leave for an aid trip to Puerto Rico next weekend.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York's governor is calling for a federal investigation into the U.S. government's response to the hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico.

The Sheehan Family in Puerto Rico
Mayor Kathy Sheehan

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and her family recently returned from a volunteer trip to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria.  The mayor tells WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas the trip is one she will never forget.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan is off to Puerto Rico for a week with her husband and son to assist in the hurricane recovery effort - WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas sat down with the mayor at city hall this afternoon to learn about the trip.

WAMC Elizabeth Hill

The new regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency was in the Capital Region Tuesday and his visit comes at a controversial period for the EPA.

Peter Lopez, the EPA’s Region 2 Administrator, spoke with the Times Union’s Casey Seiler at the Hearst Media Center in Albany to answer questions about his appointment, the administration’s policies and the EPA itself. 


Earlier today, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand previewed President Trump’s State of the Union Address.

JD Allen / WAMC

The studio residency program at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts is accepting applications from Puerto Rican artists affected by Hurricane Maria. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo
Matt Ryan

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is blasting Senate Republicans for advancing their tax overhaul legislation.

Lizzie O'Leary took this photo in Toa Baja, near San Juan.
Lizzie O'Leary/Marketplace

It has been almost three months since Puerto Rico was devastated by Irma and Maria. Power and food have been hard to come by — leading many island residents to stay with family in cities like Springfield as the island slowly recovers. Friday at 9 and Sunday at 7 a.m., we’ll air a special edition of Marketplace Weekend. Host Lizzie O’Leary spent a week in Puerto Rico reporting on the aftermath of the storms.

By Roosevelt Skerrit - https://www.flickr.com/photos/rooseveltskerrit/albums/72157686922251424, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62690583

Hudson Valley Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney’s amendment requiring an audit of a FEMA contract awarded to supply tarps to Puerto Rico, has advanced.

      Springfield, Massachusetts has become a destination for families and individuals evacuating Puerto Rico following the devastation brought to the island by Hurricane Maria in September.  

       The New North Citizens Council social service agency has been designated as the official welcoming center. 

      WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with the agency’s executive director Maria Ligus


For nearly three decades, the largest city in western Massachusetts has held a flag raising ceremony on the first Monday in November to celebrate Puerto Rican heritage and the cultural contributions of the people from the Caribbean island.  Today’s Puerto Rican flag raising at Springfield City Hall was especially poignant.

Cohen Reflects On Reporting Trip To Puerto Rico

Oct 31, 2017
 A team of Connecticut veterans and volunteers -- self-described as the Puerto Rican "water dogs" -- pumps water from a river in Salinas, Puerto Rico through a mobile filtration and purification system for residents there to drink.
Ryan Caron King/WNPR

The images of the destruction in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria don't always show the human side of the loss, the struggle and the recovery on the island. Jeff Cohen is news director at WNPR public radio in Hartford, Ct. He recently returned from an assignment in Puerto Rico, and says some parts of the island had more damage than others.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello may visit New York next week to see how the state rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaking at JFK Airport Friday
Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo headed back to Puerto Rico as the state continues to help the U.S. territory recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.

      The Baker administration has sent more help from Massachusetts to Puerto Rico to aid in the recovery from Hurricane Maria.