Adrian Florido

For more than a week, Puerto Rico's representative in Congress has been urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to extend the contract under which mainland power crews have been helping repair the island's power grid.

Standing at a lectern before reporters Thursday, Carlos Acevedo, the head of Puerto Rico's emergency management agency, made an admission. Before Hurricane Maria, he said, the island's government did not take updates to its hurricane response plans seriously.

"Before Maria, updating our plans was very easy," Acevedo said. "We would take the first and last pages, remove them, replace them with new pages, sign them, and there was the new plan."

Updated 5:58 p.m. ET

The last of the federal government's power restoration crews are scheduled to leave Puerto Rico when their contract expires next week, leaving the island's power utility with the task of energizing the last 1.5 percent of customers still waiting eight months after Hurricane Maria.

But on Wednesday, the island's representative in Congress asked the federal government not to send its crews home.

As Puerto Rico continues its recovery from Hurricane Maria, officials on the island are preparing for billions of dollars in federal reconstruction aid that will begin flowing in the coming months.

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One tree was all it took. Around 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, a wayward trunk tumbled over onto a major transmission line in Puerto Rico's still-fragile electrical grid and cut power to roughly 840,000 customers, affecting more than half of the island's population.

For months, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello has been struggling to get the U.S. Treasury to release $4.7 billion in disaster recovery loans that the U.S. Congress approved in October, weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island commonwealth. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had delayed releasing the loans because of disagreement over the terms of repayment.

On Thursday, the two men said they had reached a deal to allow the funds to start flowing.

José López doesn't have a deed for the little house at the edge of a dairy farm where he was raised and still lives — only the stories his grandfather told him about how the house came to be.

It began with an agreement between gentlemen 39 years ago. His grandfather, a foreman on the farm, needed a house for his recently divorced daughter, López's mother. So he asked the farm's owner if he could have a little corner of the sprawling estate to build her one.

"My grandfather worked on the farm for 44 years," López said, "and his boss was a good man. He said yes."

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