Greg Allen

At the beach in Magens Bay, St. Thomas, the party is back on. It's one of the Virgin Islands' most popular beaches and by noon on a recent weekday, it's already busy. Reggae-inspired hip hop is playing as pickup trucks converted into taxis bring visitors direct from the cruise ship docks. Chris Dimopoulos runs the bar, serving up margaritas, rum punches and something called the painkiller.

"We're seeing a recovery slowly but surely. Every day gets a little bit better," he says.

When Hurricane Irma's high winds ripped through the Virgin Islands, the islands' radio and television stations were among the first casualties. Tanya Marie-Singh, who heads Virgin Islands Public Broadcasting, says her staff shut down their television and radio signals a few hours before the storm hit. It was nearly two and half weeks before they could get WTJX-FM, a public station that carries NPR, back on the air.

Major League Soccer announced it is awarding a franchise in Miami to former star player, David Beckham. Beckham, his financial backers, local officials and fans celebrated at a ceremony Monday in Miami.

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An international human rights group, Refugees International, has issued a scathing report on the U.S. response in Puerto Rico to Hurricane Maria. The group says "poor coordination and logistics on the ground" by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Puerto Rican government "seriously undermined the effectiveness of the aid delivery process."

Grizelle González is an ecologist who's worked at El Yunque National Forest for 25 years — first as a student and then as a researcher with the U.S. Forest Service. The 46-year-old has a deep attachment to the tropical rainforest. Even now, she gets emotional when she recalls what El Yunque looked like after Hurricane María hit the island on Sept. 20.

"It was completely defoliated," she says, tears welling in her eyes. "The canopy was completely gone. It was almost like a desert landscape."

Tania El Khoury splits her time between London and Beirut, where she helped found an artists' collective. Three years ago, moved by stories she was hearing about the Syrian uprising, she created an interactive work called "Gardens Speak." It grew out of an image she saw of a mother digging a grave for her son in her home garden because public funerals had become too dangerous.

For coastal communities from Florida to Texas, this year's hurricane season may be a preview of what's to come. Scientists say with climate change, in the future we're likely to see more severe hurricanes and heavier rain events. In addition, as ice sheets melt, sea levels are rising faster, flooding low-lying coastal areas such as Miami.

In Caguas, south of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jared Haley is fighting a daily battle at C-Axis, the medical device manufacturer where he's the general manager. The power has been out at his plant for nearly three months, since Hurricane Irma.

Operating on emergency generators, the plant restarted operations last month and, Haley says, is delivering all its work on schedule. But he's not happy now with the plant's condition. Walking into his factory, he laments, "This shop used to look like a doctor's office."

These days, Puerto Rico's monumental power restoration effort involves helicopters dropping 100-foot towers into the mountains and a "big dance" of crews, equipment and expertise from several agencies and companies. But progress has been slow and that dance has been a complicated and tedious one on the island, which is experiencing the largest outage in U.S. history.

And sometimes it's one light forward, two lights back.

For Yamyria Morales, her baby daughter and 2 year old son Jonael, home for now is a couple of cots in an elementary school gymnasium in Vega Alta, an hour west of San Juan.

"I've lost track of when I arrived here," Morales says. "It's been really hard."

Morales, a 25-year-old single mom, came to the shelter with her kids and her father just days after Hurricane Maria destroyed her wooden home in Sabana Hoyos, about 20 miles away.

"Whatever little I had, I lost," she says.

It's a muggy early afternoon in Morovis, a mountain community about 40 miles from San Juan. Army Reserve soldiers led by Captain Angel Morales are hard at work handing out cases of water and ready-to-eat meals from a flatbed truck. Hundreds of people line up in the parking lot of the Jaime Collazo High School.

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The opioid commission chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie delivered a long list of recommendations to President Trump yesterday in its final report on the nation's opioid crisis. And we have more from NPR's Greg Allen.

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Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET

President Trump declared a public health emergency to deal with the opioid epidemic Thursday, freeing up some resources for treatment. More than 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are currently dealing with the worst drug crisis in American history," Trump said, adding, "it's just been so long in the making. Addressing it will require all of our effort."

"We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic," he said.

Julio Alicea's 8-month-old granddaughter Aubrey came down with severe respiratory problems a day after Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico. "We are very lucky," Alicea says. "The hospital is open and we live nearby." Aubrey's cough turned intense, and when she started vomiting, Alicea says, he rushed her to the hospital at 4 a.m.

She didn't have any respiratory issues before the hurricane, Alicea says, sitting on a blue bench outside San Jorge Children's Hospital in San Juan. His 3-year-old granddaughter Angelica is keeping him company.

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Irma Rivera Aviles, like nearly 200 others, is stuck at a shelter in Cataño, Puerto Rico, where conditions are getting worse daily. Nearly a week after Hurricane Maria rampaged through the country, she's desperately pleading for help. "The governor needs to come here and take a look at our critical situation," she says. "The bathrooms flooded and aren't working, sewage is overflowing, the generator is broken and we are here in the dark."

"We desperately need water, power and ice," she says.

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Hurricane Maria has made landfall in Puerto Rico. Officials say this could be the strongest hurricane ever to hit the U.S. territory, and that is unnerving even hurricane veterans on the island like Abel Mendez.

For the first time since Hurricane Irma, people who live in the lower islands of the Florida Keys are returning home. For many, that means arriving at a home to no power and no running water. And some who live in Marathon, Summerland and Big Pine Key — islands hard-hit by Irma — found their homes no longer livable.

When Hurricane Irma made landfall on Cudjoe Key last week, it carried winds of 130 miles per hour. For islands like Marathon Key on the "dirty" — more powerful — side of the storm, the storm surge was even more damaging than the winds.

In the Florida Keys this week, some residents were able to get back to their homes and assess the damage from Hurricane Irma along with those who stayed.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says in its preliminary assessment that some 25 percent of the homes in the Keys were destroyed and only 10 percent escaped without major damage.

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We're covering a couple natural disasters on this morning. Let's begin with this powerful earthquake that toppled houses and damaged schools and hospitals in the south of Mexico.

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The rain has let up in Houston, but getting in and out of the city is still a difficult task. Houston's two main airports reopened Wednesday with limited service. But many roads are flooded, and some bridges have been damaged.

Since Saturday, when both the airports shut down, thousands of flights in and out the city have been canceled. Up to now, at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the runways were open only for limited operations and humanitarian flights.

The list of charities and nonprofits that have canceled fundraising events at Mar-a-Lago continues to grow. At least 20 groups now have pulled out of galas that had been scheduled for President Trump's country club in Palm Beach, Fla.

In announcing the cancellations, many of the groups cited the controversy surrounding Trump's recent comments that "both sides were to blame" for the violence that occurred during a white supremacists' rally in Charlottesville, Va.

On Friday, three well-known charities — the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Susan G. Komen — announced they are canceling plans for fundraising events at President Trump's Palm Beach country club, Mar-a-Lago.

The three joined a growing list of nonprofits that have severed ties with the exclusive, Trump-owned resort. Others include the Cleveland Clinic and the American Cancer Society.

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