With its 155 mile-per-hour sustained windspeeds, the near-Category 5 Hurricane Maria brought catastrophic devastation and destruction as it diagonally crossed the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico from the southeast to the northwest on September 20, 2017. The official death toll estimate of 2,975 lost lives means this record storm became one of the most devasting hurricanes not only for Puerto Rico but for the U.S. Many of these deaths, as well as the prolonged human suffering, were attributed to what was described as inadequate disaster response and slow restoration of basic services (including running water, electricity, and the provision and distribution of food and medicine), and not to the direct impact of the hurricane itself.
At the same time, Hurricane Maria made landfall when Puerto Rico had been confronting a severe economic crisis surging for over a decade. This crisis, referred to as La Crisis Boricua, was characterized by a significant loss of industry and jobs, a deteriorating infrastructure, record net outmigration, a shrinking and rapidly aging population, rising healthcare under-coverage, a bankrupt government, and federal legislation restricting fiscal policy decisions made by elected officials on the island. Thus, Hurricane Maria exacerbated the effects of La Crisis Boricua on the socioeconomic, health, and demographic outcomes affecting Puerto Ricans on the island and U.S. mainland.
Bringing together scholars from a wide variety of disciplines (including economics, sociology, demography, health, psychology, disaster research, political science, education, the arts, and others), this volume represents one of the first interdisciplinary sets of studies dedicated to analyzing the effects of Hurricane Maria on island and stateside Puerto Ricans. Specific topics cover Hurricane Maria’s impact on labor market outcomes, including wages and employment by industry; health implications, including mental health; changes in artistic expression; civic engagement; and disaster response and recovery. A common thread through many of the chapters was the destruction of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid and the prolonged restoration of electricity and other essential services that resulted in the loss of thousands of lives.
Marie T. Mora is Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.
Alberto Dávila is Dean of the Harrison College of Business & Computing and Professor of Economics at Southeast Missouri State University.
Havidán Rodríguez is President and Professor of Sociology of the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY).
Chapter 1: Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico: Context and Ramifications by Marie T. Mora,
Havidán Rodríguez, and Alberto Dávila
Chapter 2: Employment and Wages in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria by María E.
Chapter 3: Hurricane Maria’s Impact on Puerto Rico’s Labor Market: Job Losses, Wage Changes
and Recovery of Municipalities Close to the Epicenter by Zadia M. Feliciano
Chapter 4: Hurricane Effects on Industry Employment: Evidence from Puerto Rico by José
Chapter 5: Understanding Hurricane Maria: Disaster Response as Transition Management by
Marla D. Pérez-Lugo, Cecilio Ortiz-García, and Didier Valdés
Chapter 6: Health and Healthcare Delivery in Puerto Rico Before and After Hurricane Maria by
Jose M. Fernandez
Chapter 7: The Health Profile of Puerto Ricans Before and After Hurricane Maria by Fernando I.
Rivera, Rebecca Sanchez, Valeria Quiñones, Veronica Arroyo Rodriguez, and Adriana
Chapter 8: Expected Impacts and Consequences of Hurricane Maria and Power Outages on
Mental Health and Other Morbidity in Puerto Rico: Current Status and Lessons Learned
from the Past by Amy Nitza and Shao Lin
Chapter 9: Facing Disaster in a Complex System: Mental Health Initiatives within the Puerto
Rico Department of Education Post-Hurricane Maria by María Rolón-Martínez, Joy Lynn
Suárez-Kindy, and Rosaura Orengo-Aguayo
Chapter 10: Puerto Rican Visual Art as Social Catharsis: What Post-Hurricane-Maria Art Is
Saying through the Frame of Disaster by Carlos Rivera Santana and Bettina Pérez-
Chapter 11: Voter Registration and Turnout among Island-Born and Mainland-Born Puerto
Ricans in the 2018 U.S. Congressional Elections by Mark Hugo Lopez, Antonio Flores,
and Jens Manuel Krogstad
Chapter 12: New York Stands with Puerto Rico: A Case Study of the State University of New
York (SUNY) Response to Hurricane Maria by Havidán Rodríguez, Mark Lichtenstein,
Sally Crimmins Villela, and Michael A. Alfultis
Chapter 13: A Perfect Storm and Then Maria by Alberto Dávila, Marie T. Mora, and Havidán
Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico provides one of the most comprehensive, clear and rigorous analysis of the impact of hurricane Maria on the lives of Puerto Ricans.
Unlike similar volumes, this collection of both well established and younger scholars provides welcomed, alternative, serious, well documented, and empirically substantiated reflections on the Puerto Rican experience in the aftermath of a series of catastrophic events amplified by hurricane Maria.
Hurricane María was a natural disaster that turned into a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico as a result of antecedent conditions and exacerbated by the post-disaster response. Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico: Disaster, Vulnerability and Resilience provides a succinct but detailed broad-scope account and analyses of such antecedent conditions, consequences of the storm and human action, and responses, both inadequate and successful. It also offers useful and actionable policy recommendations from keen observers and practitioners of the Puerto Rican experience. This volume serves as required reference for the present Puerto Rican reality and those engaged in disaster attenuation and management.