Recovery Stifled for Puerto Ricans in Hard-Hit Town

Edgar Cortes Medina clears debris from his home after it was flooded during Hurricane Maria. Brock Stoneham/NBC News

The recovery in hard-hit areas of Puerto Rico far afield from metropolitan San Juan is being hampered by the slow restoration of cellphone service, electricity and safe drinking water two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck the island.

“The nights are very hard because of the heat, the wet mattresses,” Ana Toribio Vargas, 62, told NBC News in Spanish from her home in the Martell neighborhood of Arecibo.

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(Published Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017)

Running water for her came back on Tuesday but it is dirty and she feels like she's "living in a nightmare."

Emilia Burjosa Rivera had mud about an inch thick on the floor of her home. She said she got an emergency relief kit at a coliseum in Arecibo after the storm, but had not seen any Federal Emergency Management Agency workers in her neighborhood.

“We’re going to see how the island goes on, how it picks itself up,” her partner Edwin Cortes Medina, 47, said. “And we hope to God that help from FEMA gets here to the people who need it the most.”

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