Puerto Rico – Two Months Later …

I have not written much, to date, about Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria plowed through the island in late September.  The U.S. response in the immediate aftermath was delayed, pitifully inadequate, and controversial.  So where does Puerto Rico stand today, just over two months after the worst natural disaster on record in the area?

More than half of the island is still without power, and hundreds of thousands of residents are fleeing to the American mainland in an extraordinary exodus.

It has been weeks since President Trump visited to jovially toss rolls of paper towels to needy fellow Americans and brag about how successful the recovery effort was. But true evidence of progress has been hard to come by. Even the simplest symbols of government, like traffic lights, remain useless. Most of the Pentagon’s emergency troops have begun pulling out, except for those working on the island’s shattered power grid.

The storm’s official death count of about 55 may eventually be hundreds higher, according to forensic researchers measuring the cumulative effect on the island’s 3.4 million residents. Tens of thousands of jobs have been washed away. Thousands of small businesses remain closed, and even some hospitals remain on emergency generators. Federal Emergency Management Agency officials say that unusually tough conditions are forcing them to continue to focus on the emergency response phase across the battered island — potable water, roof tarps and other bare necessities.New York Times Editorial Board, 25 November 2017

While Donald Trump did little more than criticize and throw paper towels at Puerto Ricans, there are others stepping up to the plate to help, and those are the ones who should be duly noted.

Take, for example, the Houston Astros: Star shortstop Carlos Correa, who is originally from Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico, sent a planeload of supplies to the devastated island on the first weekend of October. Astros owner Jim Crane, after donating $4 million, sent two planeloads of supplies and brought one plane filled with people – families of Astros players and people with serious medical conditions requiring immediate treatment — back to the states. He also assisted Correa in his efforts, as did grocery store chain H-E-B, and Texas-based sporting goods store Academy Sports.

Carlos Correa and Jim Crane of the Houston Astros

ricky martin-carment yulin

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz & Ricky Martin

Singer, actor and author Ricky Martin, born in San Juan Puerto Rico in 1971, has used his foundation to raise funds and provide support to Puerto Rico.  The foundation was initially established in 2002 as an awareness campaign to denounce and expose global human trafficking. In addition to Martin’s own donation of $150,000, he has sent at least 4 planeloads filled with supplies. Martin, along with Gloria Estefan, Luis Fonsi and many other Latino artists, traveled to Puerto Rico last month to help sort through donations and connect with people who have lost their homes and belongings.

Kevin Genao, a teenager living in Nashua, New Hampshire is raising money and donations for the people of Puerto Rico. He created a community donation drive called “New Hampshire United for Puerto Rico.” The group was at the YMCA in Nashua accepting donations where they raised thousands of dollars and collected lots of supplies. “Right now in Puerto Rico, it’s a tough situation,” Genao said. “They don’t even have the normal resources that everyday people have and it’s really difficult to grasp that especially knowing that my family’s been so deeply impacted.”

Many others, far too numerous to name here, are helping by giving either of their time, money, or other resources.

  • A team from Massachusetts General Hospital has gone to assist with medical care.
  • Feeding Children Everywhere partnered with five Loews hotels to assemble 375,000 meals for people in Puerto Rico.
  • While still repairing damage to Volusia County schools and homes in the wake of Hurricane Irma, families and staff of the school district in Florida turned their focus to help Puerto Rico, raising $28,276 to support the island in its own hurricane recovery efforts.

And the list goes on.  Meanwhile, the picture is still glum in Puerto Rico. Governor Ricardo Rosselló asked Congress this month for $94.4 billion in aid to help the island recover, while thus far Congress has approved only $5 billion.  There are yet many needs to be met to restore the island to some semblance of a livable community for the 3.4 million U.S. citizens that call Puerto Rico home, yet to say that the man in the White House has let these people down would be an understatement extraordinaire. Trump has not donated a single dime of his own money … trust me, we would have heard about it ad nauseam if he had.  He criticized San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, saying she wanted everything done for her, and tweeted criticism heaped on criticism …

trump-towels“Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making. A total lack of accountability. Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend. We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”

I am encouraged that so many are responding to the need of Puerto Rico and its people, disappointed in our own government, and saddened for the people who are still without adequate food, water, medicine, and may still be without electricity and telephone service.  The infrastructure will be rebuilt, just as will the homes and businesses, but it will be neither quick nor easy, and meanwhile how many people will suffer.  My heart goes out to the good people of Puerto Rico … let us make sure that we do not forget them.

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32 thoughts on “Puerto Rico – Two Months Later …

  1. I want to say “thank you” to those involved in helping Puerto Ricans. Thank you to you for blogging this. And last, a huge thumbs down to “the short-fingered Vulgarian” in the White House. May he have his own experience of “living in interesting times.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I feel very sorry that Ptrump can make aware that he finds it a strain on the United States Budget to support a U.S. territory through a very black time. Of course he finds it easy to plunge the country into a financial black hole by borrowing to offer tax cuts to the rich and the richer still.How long before one of the states who has a disaster is also a strain on the economy. Maybe another Hurricane hitting Florida and he’ll decide they shoulkd be doing more for themselves.
    xxx Cwtch xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, it is beyond disturbing that he would rather use resources to enrich his already rich friends (and himself, of course) than to help people who haven’t food, water or shelter. Beyond disturbing, but after the past 10 months, we should not be surprised, for we have not seen a shred of compassion, of humanity, of decency … not one single shred. He is an empty shell of a ‘man’.
      xxx Cwtch xxx

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Thanks so very much for remembering … my country, Puerto Rico, is still hurting. It will be years before there’s any semblance of what I knew since my last visit there. My heart and soul ache …
    ‘I am encouraged that so many are responding to the need of Puerto Rico and its people, disappointed in our own government, and saddened for the people who are still without adequate food, water, medicine, and may still be without electricity and telephone service. ‘

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hugs accepted; they are badly needed!! Sending hugs back! 💕 … things are not well. My closet family still have no power. It’s been 68 days today. They live near the San Juan area. 😥

        Like

          • Since Oct. 3, 195,000+ have arrived in Florida. Tampa, Miami, Orlando. The sad thing is that the majority may not go back. College educated professionals are leaving. One doctor/day has been leaving since before the hurricane. Remember, these are the ones working and contributing to society. Bottom line, the majority of those staying are elderly, poor and maybe criminals. Others stay bc they lack resources or family/friends in the USA. Many young ones are staying to help make PR what is was. Some say the Island has been set back 20-30 years. It will be decades of hard work, if this world is still around. 😥
            My heart & soul ache!! 🇵🇷

            Like

            • That is so heartbreaking 😥 I understand your pain, and that of your family. I wish I knew the solution … but it does seem that it will be decades before the island is the same again, if ever. I can only send you hugs and love, for I have no solutions. {{{{{💓}}}}}

              Liked by 1 person

              • Thanks so very much for your kind words. You are correct … it will be decades before the Island can be any semblance of what it was. It’s quite painful for me. I want to go back home … don’t know when but I will!!
                Hugs … ❤

                Liked by 1 person

  4. Incredible. Thank you for the reminder. Like the young man in New Hampshire said I can not grasp their situation. I came home from a perfect place to wait out Irma, I had no damage, just the loss of a little food as I had no power for the horrible length of 1 and 1/2 days. I felt both relief everything was for me back to normal and aggrieved for the almost two days without power. It is weird for me to think there are people stilling living a much worse nightmare of destruction when I moved one so easily. I think we need to have daily news broadcasts to remind us some of our people are still needing our help, and they need it greatly. Be well. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! Yes, I fear we are all quite spoiled, myself included. Our electricity was out several years ago for 5 days and the way I carried on, you’d have thought I was living in a cave in Afghanistan … not one of my prouder moments, obviously. But I think the difference, given that we are all spoiled, is that you and I and most others are able to see the suffering and want to help, feel great compassion amidst a sense of helplessness to do more. Whereas others hear about these tragedies and human suffering and it goes in one ear, promptly out the other and they do not even take a moment to ask themselves if they could help, do not even stop to be grateful for their own lives. It all boils down to having humanitarian values. Trump, obviously, has none.

      Liked by 1 person

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