Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York Focuses on Hurricane Maria’s Devastation

Ruben Diaz Jr., fifth from left, Bronx borough president, marches with a group of state and city officials, many wearing shirts with the number 4,645 on them, referring to the hurricane’s estimated death toll according to a recent Harvard study as opposed to the government’s official count, 64.The sixty-first annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade was held on Sunday, June 10, 2018 along Fifth Ave. in New York City. (Photo: Amy Newman/NorthJersey.com)

The National Puerto Rican Parade in New York turned into its usual boisterous celebration Sunday, but many participants also saw it as an occasion to express their more somber concerns over the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Along the parade route in the heart of Manhattan, people carried signs with tributes like “New York Stands with Puerto Rico,” ″You will not be forgotten” and “Decolonize Puerto Rico.”

Many also waved Puerto Rican flags and danced as they made their way down Fifth Avenue. More than 1 million people lined the route along Fifth Avenue, CBS New York reports.

The parade honored first responders and others who stepped up to help with both emergency efforts and ongoing recovery work. CBS News correspondent David Begnaud was also honored for his coverage of the island’s recovery.

Nearly nine months after Maria rocked the island, nearly 8,000 customers are still without power and it may be two more months before they get it.

Nora Ortiz said remembering those still struggling in Puerto Rico “makes today important but it also makes it bittersweet.”

Ortiz, 53, of Brooklyn, and other parade-goers voiced frustration over what they said was an under-reporting of the death toll in Puerto Rico and a tepid emergency response by the administration of President Trump.

A recent study from Harvard University estimated there were up to 4,600 more deaths than usual in the three months after Hurricane Maria, although some independent experts questioned the methods and the number in that study. The official federal death toll is at 64.

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SOURCE: CBS News, The Associated Press