Persisting for Puerto Rico

Photo%3A+The+Atlantic
Photo: The Atlantic

Photo: The Atlantic

Photo: The Atlantic

Lawrence Jia and Adam Sachs

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






2017 was an indisputably eventful year for the American people. We inaugurated the oldest President to ever take office, Congress approved massive tax reform in a period of weeks, net neutrality regulations that protected a free and open internet were repealed, the Patriots won the Super Bowl, Tom Petty passed away, and some of our favorite and most respected actors, comedians, and news anchors resigned due to sexual assault allegations. Even with a raucous political climate, some of the most devastating events that occurred in 2017 were horrifying hurricanes and natural disasters.

Hurricane Maria stands out among the many other natural disasters in 2017 because of the widespread destruction and damage it caused to the island of Puerto Rico, a US territory about 1,000 miles southeast of Miami, Florida. Maria, a powerful category 4 hurricane, made landfall on the island in September 2017, it left 51 people dead and left over 90% of the country without electricity for weeks. Over 80% of Puerto Rico’s agricultural crop, the island’s largest industry, was destroyed and 55% of people were left without clean drinking water.

President Trump’s administration often boasted about the Federal Emergency Management Association’s (FEMA) response to the disaster, and ensuring Americans that “the White House has been doing everything in its power to help.” FEMA did provide more than 4 million meals, 1.7 million gallons of water, nearly 300 infant and toddler kits to support 3,000 infants for a full week, 70,000 tarps, and 15,000 rolls of roof sheeting to the U.S. Puerto Rico in the weeks after Hurricane Maria’s landfall. However, President Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria differs greatly from previous presidents’ responses to similar natural disasters.

President George Bush signed a $10.4 billion dollar aid package just four days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans in 2005, and approved an $51.8 billion in disaster relief funding a few days later. Trump only authorized $5 billion in aid in the days after the storm and approved $81 billion dollars in December 2017, three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, in disaster relief across the US (allocated to relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey in Texas, wildfires in California, and other natural disasters). President Obama cancelled campaign appearances during his 2012 re-election campaign and stayed in in Washington DC to oversee disaster relief efforts for New York and New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy hammered the area in October 2012. He visited and volunteered in affected areas just two days later. In the days after the Hurricane Maria made landfall in 2017, Trump tweeted about his anger and disapproval towards NFL players who kneeled during the National Anthem and additional tweets heightened concerns of nuclear altercation with North Korea. It was two weeks before he visited the island, and his visit was plagued by national condemnation for his perceived condescending and foolish idea to toss rolls of paper towels into a crowd of pleading Puerto Ricans as he laughed.

Because Puerto Rico is a major source of production for American pharmaceutical companies and products, devastation that damaged factories and plants in Puerto Rico has brought negative consequences for American healthcare. Drugs that treat many chronic diseases and medical equipment cannot be made and many hospitals are bracing for shortages. It is critical that reconstruction of Puerto Rico is continued to ensure the well-being of all American citizens.

Although the Trump administration said that their response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico could be rated a “10 out of 10,” the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, called Trump a “disaster-in-chief” and Puerto Rico’s governor said that Puerto Ricans felt like “second-class citizens.” In contrast, mayor of Guaynabo, Angel Perez Otero, did report that Cruz failed to show up for meetings with FEMA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. However, it is true that almost 50% of the island still doesn’t have access to electricity and housing, utility, and infrastructure repair seems never-ending. There’s still lots of work to do before Puerto Rico has fully recovered from this devastating storm.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Persisting for Puerto Rico

    Finance

    Your Week In The Business World

  • Persisting for Puerto Rico

    National

    Spanberger and Brat Heat Up the 7th District

  • Persisting for Puerto Rico

    National

    America’s Student Loan Terror

  • Persisting for Puerto Rico

    National

    Facebook and Data Privacy

  • Persisting for Puerto Rico

    National

    Henrico’s New GRTC Plan is a Win-Win

  • Persisting for Puerto Rico

    National

    Recent Developments in the General Assembly Session 2018

  • Persisting for Puerto Rico

    National

    Does This Merger Make Sense?

  • Persisting for Puerto Rico

    National

    Doping Isn’t Dope

  • Persisting for Puerto Rico

    National

    Search for a New Fed Chairperson Continues: Another Trump Thriller

  • Persisting for Puerto Rico

    National

    New Poll Data Reveals Richmond Political Priorities

Persisting for Puerto Rico