Hurricane Maria casts shadow over kickoff to week of Puerto Rican pride

Attendees at flag-raising ceremony held moment of silence for 3,000 who have died

Pat Loeb
September 24, 2018 - 6:41 pm
A house with a Puerto Rican flag Puerto Rico.

© Carrie Cochran-USA TODAY Sports

Categories: 

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The annual ceremony of the raising of the Puerto Rican flag at Philadelphia City Hall seemed more somber than festive Monday, as the aftermath of Hurricane Maria still looms over the island a year later.

The flag-raising featured the usual pomp and ceremony, but this time also included a moment of silence for the nearly 3,000 Puerto Ricans who researchers estimated have died since Hurricane Maria unleashed devastation on the island. 

Speakers criticized the federal government's response, but Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez said Philadelphia was a bright spot.

"Because of our ability to unite, to put our egos aside and work around the same table, we were one of the most successful cities to transition our evacuees into permanent housing in the city of Philadelphia," she said.

Her office estimated about 700 people remain from the evacuation, and Mayor Jim Kenney had a message for them.

"We welcome you, we love you and we want to get you back as soon as possible to a normal life again," he said at the ceremony.

The flag-raising was the start of a week of Puerto Rican pride in Philly, which culminates in a parade on the Parkway on Sunday.