- Student Initiative
When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on September 20, it was the strongest storm to hit the U.S. territory in over 80 years. It ravaged the island’s infrastructure—tearing up roadways, destroying power lines, razing homes, and contaminating fresh water sources.
Now, more than a month later, there is still no power, many don’t have access to clean water, and transportation and communication are limited across the island. More than 73,000 of the island’s 3.4 million residents have evacuated and are now in Florida. And mounting evidence reported by news agencies in the U.S. suggests the official death toll of 51 is grossly undercounted.
Luis Miguel de Jesús Astacio closely followed the catastrophic storm and its aftermath in the news. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, he had moved to Urbana on August 14 to attend the prestigious PhD program in physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.