"One year (after the event) is quite good for what we generally do", U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson said.
The White House quoted President Donald Trump as saying earlier this week, "We stand with Puerto Rico, and we are helping them to rebuild stronger and better than ever before".
"If he calls a success or an unsung success 3,000 people dying by his watch, definitely he doesn't know what success is", San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, a Trump critic, told Reuters during a recent interview.
Electricity poles and lines lay toppled on the road after Hurricane Maria hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
In August, researchers at George Washington University published a report estimating almost 2,975 people died between September 2017 and February 2018 as a result of the storm. The exact toll is unknown. And because Puerto Rico's infrastructure and financial standing was already in need of help before Maria, the natural and government-led disasters that followed have turned a delicate situation into an untenable one.
"There's some language barriers that need to be overcome, but what we've seen is, again, the hospitality, the hotel, resort, and lodging industry have opened their doors", Jim Wall of Career Source Southwest Florida said.
While the US Congress has approved a sizable relief package, the Caribbean island is still far from coming back on its feet.
"The path forward is challenging and will be measured not in months, but really in years", Carson said.
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that another 500 students from public schools around the state will head to the island territory this school year.
Calderon added that the hurricane had raised Puerto Rico's profile on the national stage, only because before the storm, "Senators and congressional members they just have no clue whatsoever ... that Puerto Rico even existed, let alone obviously that these were American citizens". The San Juan mayor has noted that the island has seen only a fraction of nearly $50 billion in recovery funds Congress approved for Puerto Rico, including $20 billion in HUD funds. The money will be used to fix and rebuild homes, relocate people and help them obtain property titles if needed.
The recovery process after Maria has also seen hundreds of community-driven efforts.
Government officials argue that many changes have been made to better prepare Puerto Rico for future storms, but they acknowledge that significant obstacles remain.
He said the exhibition walks a fine line, with some paintings showing handsome landscapes alongside trailers set up by Puerto Rico's forensics institute as part of the effort to try to identify the bodies of those who perished in the storm.