The Washington Post - 29.08.2019

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A2 EZ RE THE WASHINGTON POST.THURSDAY, AUGUST 29 , 2019


HAPPENING TODAY


For the latest updates all day, visit
washingtonpost.com.

8:30 a.m. | The Labor
Department issues jobless claims
for the week ended Aug. 24, which
are expected to come in at
213,000, up from 209,000 the
previous week. Visit
washingtonpost.com/business for
details.


6 p.m. | Friends of the National
World War II Memorial holds the
75th anniversary commemoration
of the liberation of Paris from Nazi
Germany. For developments, visit
washingtonpost.com/national.


8 p.m. | The Clemson Tigers,
winners of last season’s College
Football Playoff National
Championship, play the Georgia
Te ch Yellow Jackets in the season
opener for both teams. Follow the
game at postsports.com.


CORRECTIONS


l An article about home security
cameras in today’s Local Living
section, which was printed in
advance, misstates the first name
of a Miami homeowner. He is
Miguel Suro, not Michael Suro.


l An Aug. 25 A-section article
about Brazil being suspicious of
global attention on the fires in
the Amazon incorrectly
attributed a quote to Al Gore. A
spokesman for Gore said that he
never said, “Contrary to what
Brazilians think, the Amazon is
not their property, it belongs to
all of us.” The quote has often
been misattributed to Gore. The
spokesman said Gore opposed
the sentiment.


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BY MORIAH BALINGIT


Schools in Puerto Rico and the
U.S. V irgin Islands closed Wednes-
day as they braced for Hurricane
Dorian, a storm that threatened t o
wreak havoc on the island territo-
ries that already suffered exten-
sive damage from Hurricane Ma-
ria.
Dorian i ntensified from a tropi-

cal storm to a hurricane Wednes-
day afternoon as it passed o ver the
Virgin Islands.
It appeared to spare Puerto
Rico o n Wednesday and pelted the
U.S. V irgin Islands with rain.
Officials in Florida were also
watching the s torm closely, but no
schools there had closed in ad-
vance of Dorian. Forecasters said
the storm had the potential to
grow to a Category 3 storm before
reaching the mainland United
States. The storm represents the
first major test for the Caribbean
communities s ince Hurricane Ma-
ria, which caused unprecedented
damage on the islands and result-
ed in thousands of deaths when it

landed in 2017.
Puerto Rico’s public schools
serve about 300,000 children,
making it one o f the l argest s chool
systems in the United States. The
U.S. Virgin Islands school system
serves a little more than 10,
students. Officials in Puerto Rico
announced that schools and gov-
ernment offices will be open
Thursday.
Danette Quiñones, a school
principal in Rio Grande, east of
San Juan, the capital, said the
storm had the potential to churn
up bad memories for students
who survived Hurricane Maria.
“We get nervous,” Quiñones
said, s hortly before the lights went

out a t her h ome. Before H urricane
Maria, she oversaw a high school
of about 300 students. But the
decline in student population led
the school system to consolidate
the h igh school with a n intermedi-
ate school. The new school, serv-
ing children from sixth to 12th
grade, has only about 400 stu-
dents. In some municipalities,
schools were serving as shelters
for people seeking to escape the
storm’s w rath.
Puerto Rico’s education system
has struggled for years, hit first by
an economic crisis that forced it to
shutter many of its schools. Hurri-
cane Maria wrought damage on
school buildings, leaving some

children out of class for weeks or
months. Thousands of schoolchil-
dren left t he i sland after t he s torm,
seeking a more stable education.
Their teachers followed, many of
them fleeing damage and chasing
higher p ay.
More recently, Julia Keleher,
who formerly headed the island’s
education department, was ar-
rested on federal corruption
charges, along with several others.
The arrests, as well as the publica-
tion of vulgar chats between for-
mer governor Ricardo Rosselló
and his cabinet, helped propel
large p rotests that led to Rosselló’s
resignation.
moriah.balingit@washpost.com

Caribbean communities close schools in lead-up to hurricane


Classes in Puerto Rico
to resume Thursday after
first test since Maria

NORTH CAROLINA


Student accused
of planning shooting

A North Carolina university
student arrested with guns and
ammunition in his dorm room

had studied mass shootings and
was making plans to kill his
roommate and himself if he
didn’t get into a fraternity,
prosecutors said Wednesday.
A High Point police statement
said officers responded Tuesday
to reports of a student with two
firearms and ammunition in a
High Point University dorm.
University officials said another
student reported him.
Police said Paul A. Steber, a
freshman from Boston, was
charged with two felony counts
of having a gun on campus and a
charge of making threats of mass
violence.
A prosecutor said Steber, 19,
had bought the guns within the
past week.
— Associated Press

NEVADA


$3 million for woman
in wrongful conviction

A woman who spent 35 years
in prison for a murder she didn’t
commit before she was
exonerated by DNA evidence on
a crime-scene cigarette butt will
get $3 million in a partial
settlement of a federal civil
rights lawsuit, her lawyer said
Wednesday.
Cathy Woods, 68, was released
from prison in 2015 when new
evidence linked the 1976 killing
of Reno college student Michelle
Mitchell to an Oregon inmate,
Rodney Halbower, who has since
been convicted of two San
Francisco Bay area slayings.

Woods was the longest-ever
wrongfully incarcerated woman
in U.S. history, according to the
National Registry of
Exonerations.
— Associated Press

WEST VIRGINIA

Legislator charged
with solicitation

A West Virginia state senator
has been charged with soliciting
a prostitute.
Sen. Mike Maroney (R) turned
himself in and was arraigned
Wednesday morning, a Marshall
County court clerk said. He has
pleaded not guilty and paid a
$4,500 bond.
Maroney exchanged text

messages to discuss prices and
set up meetings with a woman
who has admitted to being a
prostitute, according to a
criminal complaint. He also sent
her a picture of himself smiling
along with the message “now can
I stop by” after she said she
wouldn’t meet without a photo
of him.
Police have been investigating
the woman, Cortnie Clark, and
say two people have already
pleaded guilty to soliciting her
for sex. She has been criminally
charged and has told police she
became a prostitute so she could
buy heroin, according to the
complaint. Her attorney didn’t
immediately return a message
left at his office.
— Associated Press

DIGEST


BY AMY GORDON,


JHONI JACKSON


AND ARELIS R. HERNÁNDEZ


vieques, puerto rico — Hurri-
cane Dorian appeared to spare
Puerto Rico on Wednesday, weav-
ing an erratic path that side-
swiped the archipelago and
pounded the U.S. Virgin Islands
with rain, but didn’t ravage the
U.S. territories that are still recov-
ering from Hurricane Maria’s de-
struction f rom 2017.
The Category 1 storm, which
was headed out into the Atlantic
Ocean late Wednesday, was on its
way to becoming the first major
hurricane to threaten the East
Coast of the United States this
season, with forecasters predict-
ing a direct hit on Florida, perhaps
on Labor Day, when the storm is
expected to have reached Catego-
ry 3 status.
Puerto Rico dodged a wor-
st-case-scenario direct hit after
growing from a tropical s torm ear-
lier in the day, but some residents
lost power amid winds that
topped 75 mph, and some areas
flooded as intense rainfall pelted
thousands o f homes t hat still d on’t
have adequate roofing to keep
families a nd p roperties dry.
“This is not Maria,” said Gov.
Wanda Vázquez Garced at an af-
ternoon news conference in San
Juan as she updated residents on
the shifting track of a storm that
has d efied prediction.
The threat of a major storm this
week served as a catalyst for a
faster, more efficient rollout of
emergency preparedness plans
and resources by a local govern-
ment wary of repeating the mis-
takes of the past — and hoping to
win back the public trust lost in
the a ftermath of H urricane Maria.
Hundreds of power utility worker
brigades were staged ahead of
time in strategic locations. Huge
amounts of supplies were stocked
and r eady. Scores of public schools
became shelters
But vulnerabilities persist in
the U.S. territory, w here memories
of death and destruction remain
raw and where promised federal
funds aimed at mitigating catas-
trophe still have not arrived. Local
communities have now estab-
lished their o wn p rotocols f or pro-
tecting themselves — and each
other — in the wake of feeling
abandoned by Puerto Rico and
federal officials during Maria.
When Dorian’s projected path
unexpectedly swerved northward
late Tuesday, P uerto Rico’s e astern
islands of Culebra and Vieques fell
squarely in the cone of uncertain-
ty, triggering fears that the strug-
gling communities would once
again be cut off from the big is-
land, where resources are concen-
trated.
Mark Martin Bras, operations
captain for the area nonprofit or-
ganization ViequesLove, said
community m embers on the small

island just off the big island’s east
coast created a communication
network using 32 radios to keep
everyone informed of storm con-
ditions in real time. With dona-
tions and support from nonprofit
organizations on the U.S. main-
land, they bought the technology
and trained volunteers, connect-
ing them to other residents,
church leaders, emergency re-
sponders and businesses.
As Dorian swirled nearer, vol-
unteers were activated. They
learned t he local shelter was with-
out a working generator and
pulled together resources to bring
a new source of power.
“These are private citizens
working t o make sure we feel more
protected than we were during
Maria,” Martin Bras said. “We
dodged a bullet but we are not
where we need to be in Vieques.
The local state government still
hasn’t answered questions about
water, power and transportation
that are critical to being prepared
for t he next one.”
Pastor Urayoan Silva of the Fe
Que Transforma congregation has
for years been serving the local
Vieques community, where the
co st of living is higher and mari-
time transportation to the main
island is unreliable. His church
established a food bank and sup-
plies clothes to families in the
center of the i sland. But after Hur-
ricanes M aria and Irma, S ilva r eal-
ized the group needed to enhance
its operation to help protect peo-
ple f rom the n ext storm.
The church took over an aban-
doned school and, with help from
outside donors and the communi-
ty, rebuilt it into a recovery center
and s upply warehouse powered by
solar energy. E very b arrio n ow has
a leader with a radio to stay con-
nected and a ccess to a water f iltra-
tion system should the electric
system that supplies power to lo-
cal w ater pumps f ail.
“If a hurricane comes, I have
instant access to information to
know how my community is do-
ing,” S ilva said.

On the main island of Puerto
Rico, Dorian turned into a rain
event, allowing island officials to
breathe a sigh of relief. They told
residents they would remain a lert,
but the power grid appeared to
withstand Dorian’s gusts and re-
mained largely operational
throughout Wednesday. Officials
said that schools and government
offices will be open T hursday.
“We have t o be cautious and not
let our guard down,” s aid FEMA’s
federal coordinating officer, Nick
Russo, who monitored the slow-
ing storm through the night amid
concerns the h urricane was i nten-
sifying as it heads toward Florida.
FEMA officials said they are
watching and waiting to see if t hey
can start demobilizing in Puerto
Rico and shift teams to the Sun-
shine S tate.
Before and during the storm’s
trek through t he C aribbean, Presi-
dent Trump took to Twitter to
criticize Puerto Rico as “one of the
most corrupt places on earth,” e n-
couraging locals to thank FEMA
“unlike last time” and taunting
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín

Cruz.
“Congress approved Billions of
Dollars last time, more than any-
place else has ever gotten ...” the
president tweeted. “A nd by the
way, I’m the best thing that’s ever
happened to Puerto Rico!”
Trump’s comments were met
with little attention from the gov-
ernor’s mansion, where Vázquez
Garced has been communicating
with administration officials in re-
cent weeks. But Cruz responded
by telling CNN that the president
has a “vanity complex” and is at-
tempting to distract the public
from his administration’s diver-
sion of FEMA f unding t oward bor-
der s ecurity.
“This is not about him,” Cruz
wrote on Twitter. “This is not
about politics. This is about s aving
lives.”
Puerto Rico’s resident commis-
sioner, Rep. Jenniffer González-
Colón, who has a voice but n o vote
in Congress, responded to the
president’s comments, s aying hur-
ricanes obviously are not the is-
land’s fault.
“This is a moment for everyone

to stand up and help our fellow
Americans suffering from a natu-
ral disaster,” said González-Colón,
who is a Republican and i s expect-
ed to run for governor of Puerto
Rico in 2020 as the candidate for
the island’s statehood party.
“Thank you for quickly dispatch-
ing personnel and declaring a
state of emergency in Puerto Rico.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)
on Wednesday declared a state of
emergency for more t han two doz-
en counties due to “the threat
posed b y Hurricane D orian.” J ared
Moskowitz, d irector of the F lorida
Division of Emergency Manage-
ment, said in a statement that
every resident along the state’s
east coast — from Miami to Jack-
sonville — should be prepared and
monitor forecasts because “the
track of this storm has been
changing and can continue to
change rapidly.”
Back in Puerto Rico, municipal-
ities in the southeast and north-
east such as To a Baja, Canovanas
and Naguabo are still susceptible
to dangerous flooding from bloat-
ed lakes and rivers. Many of those
communities were targeted for
federally funded resiliency proj-
ects to build and reinforce levees
and systems that would help miti-
gate the worst effects of the flood-
ing on roads and neighborhoods,
said Deepak Lamba-Nieves, lead
researcher with the San Juan-
based think tank C enter f or a New
Economy.
Congress imposed new restric-
tions and requirements on some
disaster aid funding earlier this
summer after two top-ranking
members of the previous Puerto
Rican administration were
charged in a public corruption
investigation involving federal
funds. That, coupled with other
delays in the disbursement of the
bulk of $42 billion in a ppropriated
aid, has stalled Puerto Rico’s re-
construction.
The local government, whose
finances a re m anaged b y a federal-
ly appointed fiscal oversight
board, does not have t he resources
to tackle such projects on its own
in many cases, experts say. The
oversight board authorized
$260 million in aggregate funds
from a reserve account for Puerto
Rico’s emergency-related expens-
es late Wednesday.
“These communities are in dire
situations, and the government
has done little to solve their struc-
tural and geographically based
problems,” Lamba-Nieves said.
“The combination of flood zones
and poverty in these places is a
recipe for future disaster.”
With more than two months
left in the Atlantic hurricane sea-
son, Puerto Rico could still face
another emergency.
Dorian was a “great dry run,”
said longtime Vieques resident
and community leader Paul Lut-
ton. “Hopefully we will learn
things from it that will make us
better prepared for a big one.”
arelis.hernandez@washpost.com

Hernández reported from
Washington. Gordon is a freelance
journalist based in Vieques, and
Jackson is a freelance journalist
based in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Dorian surges but largely misses Puerto Rico


The Category 1 hurricane
brings pounding rain as
it heads toward Florida

ERIC ROJAS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
People gather at the coast hours before the storm enters in Patillas, Puerto Rico, on Wednesday. After
sideswiping the U.S. territory, Hurricane Dorian is poised to threaten the United States’ East Coast.

RICARDO ARDUENGO/REUTERS
Retail store employees in Humacao, Puerto Rico, install metal
storm shutters as Dorian approaches, bringing wind and rain.

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