National Puerto Rican Day Parade in NYC

A man rides his bicycle past refrigerated shipping containers being used to hold unclaimed bodies in Puerto Rico because the morgue has run out of room

Memorial of shoes honors thousands of Hurricane Maria victims feared dead in Puerto RicoBut this year's parade has a particularly profound meaning as the island of Puerto Rico continues to recover from the devastation left behind by Hurricane Maria.

While many in the Puerto Rican community are sour with the lagging support of the island from President Trump and his administration, the NYC celebration went on and was as memorable as ever with supporters donning white, blue and red as they waved flags enthusiastically at those marching in the parade.

Remembering those still struggling in Puerto Rico "makes today important, but it also makes it bittersweet", said Nora Ortiz.

"On this day of unity, we use our collective voice to remind the elected officials enthusiastically marching with us this Sunday that they also have a responsibility to advocate for policies that treat the over 8 million Puerto Ricans, regardless of whether they live stateside or on the island, like the USA citizens they are, with the dignity and respect everyone deserves in a time of crisis".

Some marchers in the crowd, as The New York Post noted, wore black T-shirts with the number 4,645 on them, referring to the hurricane's estimated death toll according to a recent Harvard University study, as opposed to the government's official count, 64.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, were among the dignitaries on hand for the event.

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"This is a year where Puerto Rico has been devastated", said Louis Maldonado, chairman of the board that oversees the parade and its affiliated events.

Cuomo said the death toll from Hurricane Maria stands at 4,500 - more than twice as many that died in Louisiana's infamous Hurricane Katrina - yet the amount earmarked by Washington to help fix the island's infrastructure has been paltry.

Before the parade, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. had said it needed to take a political tone.

"We've never been in this kind of situation before and we don't want to reach this point", she said.

"It would be a missed opportunity this Sunday.if we don't show an act of solidarity, an act of protest, an act of defiance", he said, "to let the world know we still have a president and Congress that still has not done right by 3.5 million Americans".

The students will be assisting ongoing efforts to clean, restore, and rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Maria.

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