Hurricane Maria: One Year Later

Premieres Thursday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m.

A new half-hour joint Connecting Point / Presencia special, “Hurricane Maria: One Year Later” will reflect on the disastrous hurricane, which led to the worst blackout in U.S. history. The special airs this Thursday, Sept. 20, at 8 p.m. and will be available for subsequent streaming (along with additional Hurricane Maria coverage) at

Hosted by WGBY’s Presencia host Veronica Garcia, the “Hurricane Maria: One Year Later” special episode will also explore the ways in which western New England is assisting evacuees of Puerto Rico — and how the community is coming together to support ongoing recovery efforts.

Guests will include local evacuees Carmen Romero and Luis Robles, National Emergency Grant Job Developer Frank Martinez, Betty Medina Lichtenstein of Enlace De Familias Inc., Lydia Martinez from Springfield Public Schools, Dr. Steve Zrike From Holyoke Public Schools, Masslive/The Republican reporter Elizabeth Roman, and WGBY’s own Vanessa Pabón-Hernandez.

Accompanying “Hurricane Maria: One Year Later” will be an exclusive online town hall-style forum with panelists discussing the future of Puerto Rico and what it will mean for many households here in western New England.

According to the most recent U.S. Census (2010), more than 50,000 self-identified Puerto Ricans reside in Springfield alone, making it among the most Puerto Rican cities in the country. Other nearby cities, such as Holyoke and Chicopee, also feature large Puerto Rican populations.

As residents fled hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico late last year, many opted to house with loved ones here in the Pioneer Valley and surrounding areas. This has brought hundreds of new students to the region’s public schools.

“What Hurricane Maria shows us,” says Connecting Point Executive Producer Tony Dunne, “is how interconnected our world really is. What may seem to have happened many miles away nevertheless affects us right here at home.”

As local municipalities welcome and accommodate relocating families, many questions remain. Is there enough available housing? Are schools prepared to handle increased student populations? Are employment assistance programs in place?

“Hurricane Maria: One Year Later” will ask these critical questions.

“Hurricane Maria: One Year Later” is supported, in part, by the  Community Foundation of Western Mass., Mass Humanities, and Horace A. Moses Charitable Trust (Bank of America).