NEW YORK — It was the event that changed the island of Puerto Rico forever.
Hurricane Maria caused widespread devastation across the island that no one could’ve prepared for. Electricity was completely knocked out and resources were limited.
Exactly five months after the storm hit, some say little has improved and those with ties to the island say they’re fed up.
Rallies were held across the country on Tuesday, aimed at putting pressure on FEMA and Congress to act.
In New York, dozens gathered outside FEMA Headquarters along Fulton Street where many shared their grief and disgust with lagging recovery efforts
“It’s a shame American citizens are struggling and are allowed to die,” a demonstrator said.
Gina DeJesus has friends and relatives who still have no electricity on the island. It's a widespread issue affecting a third of Puerto Ricans today.
“Human, basic needs -- that’s all we’re asking for,” DeJesus told the crowd. “For FEMA to step up. It's game and you dropped the ball."
FEMA has been under the microscope following Maria’s aftermath in Puerto Rico.
In addition to multi-million dollar contracts awarded to questionable recipients who were commissioned to assist in recovery efforts, a recent report found that 62 percent of applications made for claims on property damage on the island have been denied by the agency.
“There are people still living in uninhabitable conditions,” said Natasha Bannan, an associated counsel with Latino Justice. “They are trying to figure out what to do with their homes with the privatization of basic public goods that are happening on the island, whether or not they will be forced to leave or not.”
Next month, the same advocacy groups plan to march in Washington, D.C., where they say their fight for aid will continue.