Mandalit del Barco

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Residents of La Perla are still waiting for help.

The notoriously dangerous barrio of candy colored homes is bordered by the Caribbean on one side and the ancient city walls of Old San Juan on the other.

As in the rest of Puerto Rico, people here remain without electricity or access to clean drinking water, food and supplies, nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria.

Desperate residents have painted messages on plywood boards: "S.O.S., we need help. Water, provisions. Don't abandon us. Despacito."

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The song of the summer connected its fans to an oceanside barrio that borders the city walls of Old San Juan. And now the people in this part of Puerto Rico are asking for help. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

Eight-year-old Yan Anthony Hernandez has deep dimples on each side of his smile. Somehow, he managed to sleep through the hurricane that roared over his home in Isabela, Puerto Rico. Unlike those living in wooden houses, his cement home held up.

But now, there's no electricity or cellphone service, and his school is closed. Instead of spending his free time on his Playstation or watching YouTube videos as he usually does, he's a little bored.

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I once snuck across the border from Tijuana to San Diego. I was with NPR's Mandalit del Barco to watch people cross illegally into this country - at night, across a highway, through a fence, through sewers and over hills, we ran with them.

In her modernist loft in LA's arts district, author Marie Lu has a modular workspace and lounge area whimsically dubbed The Writer's Block. "We wanted it to be playful," she says.

But writer's block doesn't seem to be much of a problem for the 33-year-old science fiction and fantasy novelist. Her dystopian trilogy "Legend" and her fantasy trilogy "The Young Elites" both became best-sellers.

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