U.S. and Puerto Rico flags hang on a damaged church after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Carolina, Puerto Rico September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

-The Investigation Also Includes a Two-Part Series on NPR’s
All Things Considered Beginning April 30-

More than seven months after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, damaging or destroying homes and demolishing much of the island’s infrastructure, more than a hundred thousand Americans are still without power, as part of the worst blackout in U.S. history. That blackout is explored in the new film from Frontline, “Blackout in Puerto Rico,” premiering Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 10 p.m. on CPTV and online at pbs.org/frontline.

In “Blackout in Puerto Rico,” Frontline and NPR investigate how the federal response in Puerto Rico left millions of Americans in the dark for months — and the storm before the storm: how Wall Street, Puerto Rico’s government, and Washington fueled a debt crisis that left the island’s economy in ruins and its infrastructure crippled even before Maria hit.

“What happened in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria was actually the result of two disasters — one natural, and one man-made,” said NPR’s Laura Sullivan, who spent seven months investigating the recovery effort with Frontline producer Rick Young and his team. “We went in search of the people who could tell us what really happened.”

The investigation includes “Blackout in Puerto Rico” on PBS, as well as a two-part series on NPR’s All Things Considered beginning April 30. (All Things Considered airs weekdays at 4 p.m. on WNPR.) This investigation uncovers a trove of insider documents and emails that show a government relief effort in chaos, struggling with key contracts, basic supplies, and its own workforce.

Underpinning it all, “Blackout in Puerto Rico” delves into Wall Street’s role in the island’s economic demise — a crisis that left it dangerously vulnerable to a storm like Maria. The investigation also examines the American government’s inconsistent policies towards the territory of Puerto Rico, and traces the relationship between Puerto Rico and the U.S. — including how Congress’ withdrawal of a special tax break helped spur the Puerto Rican government’s cycle of debt and borrowing.

“Blackout in Puerto Rico” is a must-watch look inside the ongoing recovery effort in Puerto Rico — and the economic crisis that left the island’s infrastructure crippled even before the storm hit.

For more about Hurricane Maria’s impact on both Puerto Rico and Connecticut, explore WNPR’s award-winning reporting project The Island Next Store>> 

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