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USF Sarasota-Manatee Hosts Discussion Of Puerto Rico's Post-Maria Recovery

Puerto Rico National Guard by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos

Over a year ago, Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico.

Thursday evening, the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee is hosting a panel discussion, "Puerto Rico: A Year After Maria," which will talk about how the island and its residents are still recovering from the storm.

Panelists include retired Air Force Col. Evelio “EJ” Otero, Jr., and Deidre Orriola, an instructor at USF’s College of Public Health. Both took part in the relief effort following last year's devastation from the storm.

USFSM Accounting professor and Puerto Rican native Carlos Jimenez will serve as moderator.

"It'll be good if people can understand the magnitude of the impact of Maria," he said. "Even after a year, the country's still struggling for various reasons."

Jimenez has returned to his native Puerto Rico twice since Maria ravaged the island. He says people there were still uneasy this past summer.

"They were very emotional about, 'yeah, we know we're in July, it's a year later, but we don't want to experience anything like this anymore.' Everyone was concerned that if another thing like that happened, there's not going to be any island left," said Jimenez.

The public discussion is part of "International Education Week" at USF Sarasota-Manatee, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota.

The free event, which will take place in Selby Auditorium, is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday evening.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.