Puerto Rico’s nightmare recovery

Updated 9:30 PM EDT, Mon October 2, 2017
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SAN ISIDRO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 15:  Uncollected debris stand near damaged homes in an area without electricity on October 15, 2017 in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is suffering shortages of food and water in many areas and only 15 percent of grid electricity has been restored. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, swept through.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO - DECEMBER 20:  A resident, whose home remains without electricity, watches as debris is removed on December 20, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Barely three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, approximately one-third of the devastated island is still without electricity and 14 percent lack running water. While the official death toll from the massive storm remains at 64, The New York Times recently reported the actual toll for the storm and its aftermath likely stands at more than 1,000. Puerto Rico's governor has ordered a review and recount as the holiday season approaches.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO - DECEMBER 20: A resident, whose home remains without electricity, watches as debris is removed on December 20, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Barely three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, approximately one-third of the devastated island is still without electricity and 14 percent lack running water. While the official death toll from the massive storm remains at 64, The New York Times recently reported the actual toll for the storm and its aftermath likely stands at more than 1,000. Puerto Rico's governor has ordered a review and recount as the holiday season approaches. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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With hurricane season starting June 1, CNN returns to Puerto Rico to see if the island is ready for another storm. Nine months after Maria, 20,000 homes are still without power- and going into the season, many mayors are worried that even a small storm will plunge them back into darkness and repeat the crisis all over again. We witness desperate Puerto Ricans illegally and dangerously turning on their own power, and press officials for answers on what will change this time around.
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SAN ISIDRO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 05:  Kids bike in an area without grid power or running water about two weeks after Hurricane Maria swept through the island on October 5, 2017 in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, swept through.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO - DECEMBER 20:  A resident, whose home remains without electricity, watches as debris is removed on December 20, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Barely three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, approximately one-third of the devastated island is still without electricity and 14 percent lack running water. While the official death toll from the massive storm remains at 64, The New York Times recently reported the actual toll for the storm and its aftermath likely stands at more than 1,000. Puerto Rico's governor has ordered a review and recount as the holiday season approaches.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO - DECEMBER 20: A resident, whose home remains without electricity, watches as debris is removed on December 20, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Barely three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, approximately one-third of the devastated island is still without electricity and 14 percent lack running water. While the official death toll from the massive storm remains at 64, The New York Times recently reported the actual toll for the storm and its aftermath likely stands at more than 1,000. Puerto Rico's governor has ordered a review and recount as the holiday season approaches. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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A Puerto Rico Electric and Power Authority brigade work in a remote off-road location to repair a downed power transmission line in Ponce, Puerto Rico on November 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY By Leila MACOR, US-PuertoRico-power-weather-reconstruction-hurricane        (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
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Story highlights

President Trump visits Puerto Rico on Tuesday

"My people are suffering. This is a disaster," says mayor of a town in western Puerto Rico

(CNN) —  

“I don’t want to live here anymore.”

Eyleen Gonzalez, all of 18 years of age, uttered that phrase without hesitating.

Gonzalez’s house in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, was destroyed by Hurricane Maria nearly two weeks ago.

Since then, everyone in her hometown has lived without electricity. Only a quarter of its 80,000 residents have running water. About half of gas stations in town are open, with long queues stretching blocks. Most supermarkets are open but rationing food.

The destruction in Toa Baja is the rule, not the exception, in Puerto Rico, where the recovery has moved at a glacial pace, according to over a dozen interviews with residents, local relief workers and small-town mayors across the island.

Federal officials and Puerto Rican government leaders stress the recovery efforts are “united.” But things took a divisive twist Saturday when President Donald Trump lambasted the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, for “poor leadership.”

Trump visits Puerto Rico on Tuesday, and he may get a sense of why the recovery has been a nightmare for many of the island’s 3.4 million US citizens.

“My people are suffering. This is a disaster,” says Carlos Mendez, the mayor of Aguadilla in western Puerto Rico.

Overwhelming destruction

The Port of San Juan, where much of the humanitarian aid is arriving, doesn’t have enough truck drivers. Even if it did, many trucks don’t have enough diesel fuel to deliver food, water and other essentials. There’s little cell service for those with the aid to communicate with towns, drivers and locals. Banks can’t get enough armored trucks to deliver cash too.

On top of all that, roads are marred with fallen trees – or the road just doesn’t exist anymore. In one town, residents strung a cable across a river to ford it in knee-deep water because the bridge connecting the two sides had been washed a football field’s length downriver.

Meanwhile, hospitals and food banks are running low on fuel for their generators to keep the lights on and preserve fruits, veggies and meat.