This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. 

As we wind our way down Avenida Rexach, one of the main pathways through the warren of streets in San Juan’s Barrio Obrero Marina, Lymaris De Jesús tries to paint a picture of what it was like after Hurricane Maria passed through. Today, the streets are packed with kids riding bikes, trucks collecting trash, people sitting in chairs on the sidewalk to escape the heat of their homes, and, every few blocks, somebody with a generator and a power strip who’s offering phone charges for $2. But two weeks ago, De Jesús says, “this was all filled with black water.”

I’m with De Jesús and several local journalists, and she’s showing us around the neighborhoods that surround the Martín Peña Channel, a body of water nearly four miles long that snakes through the heart of the capital. Some 26,000 people, most of them poor, call these densely packed communities in the shadow of the city’s financial district home.