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“Pray with me.”

A homeless boy from Puerto Rico said those words as presidential advisor Doug Fears and other officials prepared to board a helicopter to leave the mountain town of Utuado in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

The September 2017 storm had caused $1 billion in damage, wiping out all communication, and leaving 1 million people without power or water.

“Landing on the island was like being taken back to the year 1880,” Fears told an audience of 200 people at the inaugural Global Resilience Research Network Summit on Thursday hosted by Northeastern’s Global Resilience Institute. “We will be working through this recovery for at least a decade.”

Fears choked up as he described the boy’s plea.

But the institute’s director, Stephen Flynn, intends to do a lot more than pray.

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