Tens of thousands flee Puerto Rico
© Getty Images

Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans have taken refuge on the U.S. mainland as the island recovers from two major hurricanes that ravaged the territory last month.

The Associated Press on Wednesday reported that thousands of the island's residents are trying to plan for the future as island officials estimate Puerto Rico could be without fully-restored power for as long as six months. About 40 percent of the island remains without clean drinking water, while 90 percent don't have power.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I am in limbo right now,” Betzaida Ferrer, a 74-year-old retiree who evacuated the island, told the AP. “To be in a situation like this where you need help is horrible."

Experts believe that the slow pace of recovery efforts on the island could lead to many of Puerto Rico's 3.4 million residents to decide to permanently stay on the mainland.

“I think that we could expect that people who did not plan to stay permanently might do so now,” Jorge Duany, a professor of anthropology at Florida International University told the AP.

On Monday, Puerto Rico's Gov. Ricardo Rosselló asked Congress and the Trump administration for an additional $4.6 billion for disaster relief efforts.

“Puerto Rico has experienced a natural disaster of a magnitude not seen in over a century, and we are doing everything possible to address the needs of the American citizens of Puerto Rico during this time of crisis,” Rosselló wrote.

“However, the unprecedented level of destruction, coupled with the almost complete shut-down of business in Puerto Rico, have made it impossible for us to meet the considerable human needs without the measures proposed above.”

The House is expected to vote on the Trump administration's disaster relief proposal this week. Officials on the island estimate the hurricane cleanup costs will total between $45 and $90 billion.