UTUADO, P.R. — Maritza Collazo Torres moved to the mountains of central Puerto Rico in 2020, fleeing a string of earthquakes that were rattling other parts of the island.

Two-and-a-half years later, Ms. Collazo Torres’s one-bedroom wooden home in the town of Utuado is on the verge of collapse — not because of an earthquake, but because of a hurricane.

Hurricane Fiona’s deluge in September left the house three feet away from a steep, newly formed cliff, just outside her bedroom window. Recently, an inspector from Federal Emergency Management Agency warned her that the land would shift further, and she and her husband could be at the bottom.

“‘If you are able to open your eyes, you’ll do so down there,’” Ms. Collazo Tores, aged 57, remembered his saying.

Fiona fled Puerto Rico following severe flooding and widespread blackouts. The impact of the flooding and power blackouts that followed Fiona’s departure from Puerto Rico is still evident in Utuado, a remote community that has suffered for many years from economic instability, natural disasters, and government neglect. Many were still not completely recovered from Hurricane Maria that devastated the island in 2017. In 2017, Fiona brought with it extreme rain.

“Living here is a bit complicated,” Ms. Collazo Torres spoke with the same understatement that Puerto Ricans often use. “Once you get used to it, you keep going.”

In Utuado’s Parcelas Riera community, where Ms. Collazo Torres lives, single-family homes are scattered along Road 605, a winding road that is not fully accessible by car. It is the only road to get in and out of Utuado, with some sections looking like a muddy slide from floods or landslides. Fiona and Ms. Collazo Torres, her family, had to work through mud to open a pathway to her front door.

Still, Ms. Collazo Torres, who remains in her wooden home on the same plot of land as her daughters and extended family, said that she and her husband, José Francisco Cruz López, 67, a math teacher who dreams of retirement, are better off than many who lost their homes or belongings during Fiona.

“We are alive,” She stated, “and we are in good health.”

Ms. Collazo Torres grew up in Utuado and said that Road 605, the road leading to Utuado has been neglected for at least 20 years. It is a symbol of the precariousness that has taken root in Puerto Rico, and of the island’s inability, amid a fiscal and debt crisis, repeated disasters and the coronavirus pandemic, to provide public services to the needy.

Ms. Collazo Tores still manages to help her family since she returned to Utuado. Living on the same parcel of land as her daughters has allowed her to take care of her grandchildren after school and provide company to her daughters’ mother-in-law, Gloria Santiago, who lives with her parakeets on the other side of the crumbling cliff.

Her home was among the 300,000 homes that were damaged in Hurricane Maria’s destruction of Puerto Rico. Ms. Santiago, 67, and her late husband, Virgilio Jiménez Medina, received around $3,000 from FEMA for home repairs. Their extended family contributed money and labor but it was not enough for them to rebuild their homes.

The only thing that keeps her from spending more than $200 a month is public assistance. Sometimes she is unable to afford the essentials.

“Last month, I could not buy milk,” She said.

Utuado lies about 40 miles from San Juan and is a sprawling, rural community of around 29,000 people. According to the census, 54% of residents live below poverty line. Mayor Jorge Pérez Heredia, 50, says his hometown faces many challenges — some created by Hurricane Maria, others stemming from the island’s long financial crisis.

“Pretty much every community up in the mountains” of Utuado is in the same condition as Ms. Collazo Torres’s, he said, adding that the town’s limited budget is a hurdle for buying construction materials, hiring new workers to repair roads and bridges, or offering services such as public transportation. “Up here, in the mountains, everything is more expensive, no matter what kind of service you need.”

Of Utuado’s 65 bridges, 44 are in need of repair, the mayor said.

Since Mr. Pérez Heredia came into office in 2021, municipal budget cuts ordered by the fiscal board that Congress created to oversee Puerto Rico’s finances have led the island’s government to cut allocations to Utuado by about $1 million a year. Utuado has been able to increase its budget by a little over $10 million in 2022, from $8 million in fiscal 2020.

“When this windfall of federal money is done,” Mr. Pérez Heredia said, “the majority of Puerto Rico’s municipalities won’t be able to operate.”

Mr. Pérez Heredia knew about Road 605’s poor conditions before he became mayor. He used to work as an electrician and would go to Parcelas Riera for repairs. To promote his mayoral candidacy in 2020, he drove to the highest areas of this community together with his wife who had just purchased a four-wheel-drive SUV.

“She would ask me where we were going,” He said. “She was afraid her new Jeep was going to get ruined.”

That is exactly what happened to the nine cars and SUVs that Miguel Montalvo Colón, 70, had collected over the years atop one of Parcelas Riera’s highest hills, around the concrete house he shared with his wife. She died two weeks after Hurricane Maria when she was discharged from the third hospital where she had been treated for a urinary tract infection.

Hurricane Fiona dumped more than 23 inches of rain on Utuado and worsened the already dangerous road that leads to Mr. Montalvo Colón’s house. Fiona has made it more than a half hour drive from Parcelas Riera since September 18th, when the retired farmer moved in with one his daughters. Mr. Montalvo Colón can no longer drive to or from his remote home.

Every time he needs to get there, whoever gives him a ride leaves him on the northern bank of a creek that Mr. Montalvo Colón — and anyone without a four-wheel-drive vehicle — must cross on foot.

From there, Mr. Montalvo Colón, who has survived four heart attacks and open-heart surgery, must make a slippery, uphill trek of about 40 minutes along Road 605 — and back down afterward.

Mayor Pérez Heredia said he has identified $300,000 to resurface Parcelas Riera’s roads, but he thinks he still might be a few thousand dollars shy of the total cost.

Mr. Montalvo Colón said he stopped expecting politicians to deliver on their promises a long time ago: Utuado — and the road to his house — began backsliding after Hurricane Georges in 1998, he said.

Friends, aware of his decades-long struggle with reaching the home where he grew up and raised his children, ask him why he does not sell it and use the money to buy a new place in Utuado’s town center.

“I don’t want to,” Mr. Montalvo Colón said he tells them. “This is where my father had his farm, where I live in peace and quiet. Back in town there’s too much noise, and I already have my little house where I feel at home.”