It took Hurricane Maria 12 hours to pass over Puerto Rico.
The recovery will take decades.
How a Hurricane Creates Poverty
After a hurricane of Maria's size many businesses are forced to close because they don't have electricity or their supply chain is disrupted. For entrepreneurs this means weeks or in the case of Maria months without income. For workers this results in mass layoffs or less hours they can work.
But this is just the beginning. Lower incomes means that people can't spend as much money which causes more layoffs and even lower incomes. The effects of this downward spiral can last years forcing hundreds of thousands of people into poverty in the process.
Income data courtsey of Solomon Hsiang and Trevor Houser / New York Times
40-60% of small businesses closed after Maria
FEMA estimates that after a disaster of this scale between 40 and 60 percent of small businesses are forced to close.
A survey of 1,000 small businesses conducted by the Puerto Rico Science and Technology Trust shows that roughly 40% of small businesses didn't re-open after the hurricane.