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Puerto Rico Struggling To Rebuild 1 Year After Hurricane Maria

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It has been one year since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.

The Category 4 storm left the whole island without power for months, and many people are still struggling to find a way to rebuild their homes.

Photos: Hurricane Maria Batters Puerto Rico

One woman told CBS2's David Begnaud the cost of raw materials skyrocketed after reconstruction on her house started -- and then she ran out of money.

Concrete power line poles lies on a highway after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Luquillo, Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. (Photo by RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)

The federal government has approved $1.4 billion to help residents of the U.S. territory and Congress has approved nearly $20 billion for reconstruction and infrastructure improvements.

But many on the island say aid money has been slow to arrive. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it denied nearly one-third of the 1.1 million applications for individual aid.

Puerto Rico estimates it will take $139 billion to fully recover.

Power is finally restored to just about everyone on the island after Maria crumbled the power grid, but it took months for the island's government-owned electric company to get the lights back on and outages are still common. The lack of electricity may have contributed to the deaths of some elderly and sick people, CBS2's Begnaud reported.

The official death toll was raised last month from 64 to 2,975, following a report from researchers at George Washington University. President Donald Trump disputed that number, claiming the Democrats were to blame for making him "look as bad as possible."

On Thursday morning, at the seaside town where Maria made landfall, a choir performed a traditional Puerto Rican song to mark the anniversary and to honor the lives lost.


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