Puerto Rico Remains Strong in the Aftermath of Maria
October 10, 2017
This hurricane season has wreaked havoc like never before with its historically unprecedented destruction; first Harvey in Texas, then Irma in Florida and now Maria in Puerto Rico. On Sept. 22, Puerto Ricans braced themselves for a storm that would leave them without electricity, food and potable water for weeks to come. Maria, a Category 4 storm, has left the island devastated. As of right now, 45 people have been found dead and dozens more are critically injured. Power has only been restored in nine hospitals due to damage to the main power grid, although 51 of 69 on the island are working full-time with the help of generators. Unfortunately, this is not enough. Desperate families have been removing their relatives who are in need of medical care from the island because oftentimes this care requires equipment and supplies that are not currently accessible. Many Puerto Ricans have been attempting to leave the island in search of refuge, coming to the mainland to begin anew.
Maria is reported to set back Puerto Rico’s economy, which is already struggling, for twenty to thirty years. While the community assures Puerto Rico will come back from this tragedy, they are asking for help at the federal level because they cannot do this by themselves.
“I have some family in Puerto Rico and I am absolutely devastated by the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. There’s no power on the island except for a few places in the metropolitan area. Many towns are unreachable by land so there is no way to bring them food or water and that worries me beyond words. I am truly saddened by all that’s happened,” sophomore Isa Burgo said when asked how she felt about the situation.
Stars like Daddy Yankee, a well-known Puerto Rican singer-songwriter and producer, have donated millions of dollars to help their fellow neighbors to recover from this atrocious storm. Entertainer, singer-songwriter and producer, Pitbull, has lent his private plane to transfer cancer patients from Puerto Rico to functioning hospitals. “Thank God we’re blessed to help,” said the famous star. Television stars such as Stephen Colbert and Nick Kroll have begun a social media challenge- #Puberme and #PuertoRicoRelief- where Colbert will make a donation of $1,000 and Kroll will match Colbert’s donation when actors post their most awkward and embarrassing, prepubescent pictures on twitter. Many celebrities, such as Monica Lewinsky, William Shatner and Steve Martin, have added their pictures to the album, alongside Ryan Seacrest, John Oliver and Reese Witherspoon. Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez have donated 1.5 million dollars to the island, aside from her previous donation of one million dollars from her Las Vegas show. Lopez, alongside Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, has called attention to the humanitarian crisis that is taking place on the island as the two hosted a press conference in New York City to call to action all those who can donate. If you can donate, please visit here.
“In times like these, when people are dying and suffering due to such a catastrophic event, it warms my heart to see people in high places with the power to make a difference come together and help those who are going through something I cannot even begin to imagine,” junior Lauren Pettigrew said.
The Trump Administration has sent 10,000 federal workers to begin rebuilding the island. Roughly 6,400 Department of Defense personnel are now in Puerto Rico trying to restore the island’s power grid. A ship arrived Tues., Sept 26, with 262,000 barrels of fuel for distribution to gas stations across the island. One of the main problems Puerto Rico faced in the aftermath of Maria was the scarcity of gas and inability to distribute the small amount that they did have.
FEMA is also on site, working around the clock. They are working to distribute 4 million meals, 6 million liters of water, 70,000 tarps and 15,000 rolls of roof sheeting. While these numbers may seem small, it is important to keep in mind that unlike Texas and Florida, Puerto Rico is an island, making it harder to access those in need. Now, with more ports opening up, aid workers and citizens are expecting a flood of necessary materials. The community remains hopeful as they are confident that Puerto Rico will rise, and when they do, they’ll be stronger than ever before.