Greg Allen

In Puerto Rico, nearly two years after hurricane Maria, the need for safe, affordable housing is still a massive challenge. "We have more than a half million people affected. And we have to build, minimum, 75,000 homes, " says Astrid Diaz, a well-known architect in Puerto Rico. She was part of a FEMA team that assessed the island's infrastructure after the storm.

Diaz often appears on television wearing her trademark yellow hardhat, promoting her "Casa Segura-Safe Homes" campaign.

Mameyes is a small community of about 1,000 people high in Puerto Rico's central mountains. But in its own way, it is one of the leaders of Puerto Rico's energy future.

Francisco Valentin grew up in Mameyes, where he runs a small store. Even before Maria he had big ambitions for his town. After Maria, he knew he wanted his community to run on solar power. And with the help of foundations, charities and the University of Puerto Rico — not the government — he has done that, converting the town's school, health clinic and several other buildings.

Nearly two years after Hurricane Maria, the town of Utuado is finally getting a new bridge over the Viví River to replace the old concrete and steel one that was heavily damaged during the storm and has been closed ever since.

"This is the main road in and out of town," Héctor Cruz says, as a crew uses a crane and other heavy equipment to construct the new bridge. Cruz is the director of emergency management in Utuado, a community in the highlands of central Puerto Rico.

Federal prosecutors say a lenient plea deal struck more than a decade ago with multimillionaire and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein should be allowed to stand.

As another hurricane season begins, emergency managers and other officials throughout the Southeast and along the Gulf Coast are applying lessons they learned last year during Hurricane Michael. Those lessons include how they conduct evacuations.

The cruise line giant Carnival Corporation and its Princess subsidiary have agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $20 million for environmental violations such as dumping plastic waste into the ocean. Princess Cruise Lines has already paid $40 million over other deliberate acts of pollution.

U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz approved the terms of the deal during a hearing Monday in Miami. She had appeared to grow increasingly frustrated as the company continued to flout environmental laws during the course of the years-long case.

Anyone who was in Panama City, Fla., last year when Hurricane Michael hit has a story to tell. Christina Harding rode out the storm with her mother, daughter and two nephews. "It was crazy," she says. "We had to tie the door shut because Michael was trying to come into the house with us, which was not what we wanted. It was like bam, bam, bam, bam. Like somebody trying to get in, you know?"

Many residents in the southeast U.S. and along the Gulf Coast are already thinking about the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on June 1. Last year brought two of the most destructive storms to ever hit the U.S.: Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael.

For many people in Venezuela suffering from shortages of food and medicine, a lifeline runs from Miami through companies like VKE Cargo. It's a storefront and a small warehouse located in Doral, a Miami suburb.

The community of Parkland, Fla., is reeling from the news this weekend that two young people took their own lives. On Friday, 19-year-old Sydney Aiello was buried, five days after she killed herself. Aiello was a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year at the time of the mass shooting. A day later, on Saturday, another student took his life. He was a current student, a sophomore whom authorities haven't identified.

Unmanned F-16 jets are flying again at Tyndall Air Force base on Florida's Panhandle, and for many it's a welcome sound. Four months ago the base took a direct hit from Hurricane Michael. The storm's 155-mile-per-hour winds toppled forests, shredded buildings and left the base a mess with its future in doubt.

Now the Air Force says it is rebuilding Tyndall to be the air base of the future. Officials say the rebuilt base will be resistant to storm surges and to wind speeds up to 180 miles per hour and is expected to cost some $3 billion.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

About a 10-minute drive from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, on an empty lot across from city hall in Coral Springs, Fla., a temple has been slowly taking shape. Sheets of beech plywood have been milled into intricate, lacelike designs. They will form the walls and ceiling of a nearly 40-foot-tall structure that artist David Best calls the Temple of Time.

Updated at 9:09 a.m. ET

Tuesday is a historic day in Florida. Under an amendment passed by the voters in November, as many as 1.4 million felons are regaining the right to vote. The referendum overturned a 150-year-old law that permanently disenfranchised people with felony convictions.

Off Cedar Key on Florida's west coast, the water is some of the most pristine in the Gulf. The estuary there has long supported a thriving seafood industry.

Sue Colson, a city commissioner in Cedar Key, says one of the best places to harvest oysters used to be the Lone Cabbage oyster reef, about a mile offshore. When the tide was really low, she says there were so many oysters that she and her husband could walk along the reef picking them up.

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