SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO | From deep in the El Yunque National Forest, hikers can stand atop the Mt. Britton Tower on a clear day and see a majority of Puerto Rico’s 3,515 square miles.
Even from that remote vantage point, there are signs of Hurricane Maria. The 2017 storm that caused close to 3,000 fatalities in the U.S. territory has left a sea of rooftops bathing in blue tarps, many of them surrounded by slanted but still operational power lines. In closer proximity, it’s not uncommon to see large palm trees tipped over, their trunks smashing once impenetrable concrete barriers. Some signs on Highway 22 are split in half or gone altogether.
These are some of the scars yet to be healed. But much of what I saw during a recent four-day trip to San Juan was surprisingly uplifting given the terror of what unfolded two Septembers ago. The Category 4 hurricane arrived at the southeast coast of the rectangular territory and dropped more than 30 inches of rain while winds of up to 155 mph showed no mercy. The whole island went dark. It was only last August, 11 months after Maria, that electricity was fully restored. Given those circumstances, it would only be fair to assume Puerto Rico would need years to become somewhat normal again. Forget hosting a PGA Tour event, as it has since 2008; it would take a monumental effort to reopen businesses and ensure citizens could resume their daily activities.
TPC Dorado Beach is a tournament-quality course in the San Juan area. Photo: S...
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