Watch CBSN Live

"People in Puerto Rico are suffering": La Cordillera Central has been begging for help since Maria hit

Puerto Rico facing uncertain future
Puerto Rico facing uncertain future 02:39

San Juan -- It's known as  "La Cordillera Central," or "Between Mountains," a lush mountain area ravaged by Hurricane Maria. CBS News was there nearly two years ago when mudslides and swollen rivers destroyed homes, bridges and roads.

"They don't hear the other problems of the municipalities," said Utuado Mayor Ernesto Irizarry Salva, a former high school teacher, who has been begging for help since Maria hit. 

He said he would tell the incoming governor "the biggest challenges are to get out of San Juan and go to the towns and see the people who are really suffering from Maria."

People like 76-year-old Domingo Villafane, who CBS News spoke to on a bridge that keeps washing away every time there is a storm.

Domingo said he would tell the people of America that Puerto Rico is "abandoned." 

Abandoned by a government that is notoriously slow for getting money to municipalities that still haven't recovered. The mayor's budget is only $8.5 million for the island's third-largest municipality of 33,000 people.

The road to the home of Domingo is collapsing and the mayor said he uses sand and rocks from the river because he can't afford to do it the right way.

Domingo took us to his home, a two-room house on the top of a hill. He lost his whole roof during Maria. The new one is tin with holes. When it rains, it rains inside.


For the mayor, the problems are overwhelming.

"It is frustrating. It's really frustrating and this is the real Puerto Rico. It is not the beaches. It's not the piña colada," Salva said. "This is Puerto Rico. And the people in Puerto Rico are suffering."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.