The Recovery of Puerto Rico

Faith Lininger, Staff Writer

“Make no mistake – this is a humanitarian disaster involving 3.4 million US citizens,” Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said the monday after Hurricane Maria hit. All of the United States, and the majority of the world, know of the two recent hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Maria, both hit Puerto Rico hard. Irma left over 1 million people without power. 60,000 were still without it when Maria came, hitting the island directly.

There are several problems with Puerto Rico’s recovery after the storms. 3.4 million US citizens live in Puerto Rico. Only 54% of Americans even know that Puerto Ricans are citizens of the same country. If Puerto Rico were a state, it would be the 30th most populated state, with more people than Wyoming, Vermont, and Alaska combined. The Stafford Act, which governs federal response to major disasters, means that the federal government must treat Puerto Rico like a state. The issue? They practically ignore Puerto Rico.

Florida and Texas, both who were hit by hurricanes as well, were paid much more money than Puerto Rico was for recovery. When Puerto Rico first requested 94 billion dollars for recovery, which, considering their damages, is a reasonable amount, their request wasn’t even considered. It wasn’t even thought of at the congress meeting that was set to discuss the damages.

“Help us. Without robust and consistent help we weill die,” Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, said in a statement on October 12. “Mr. President, fulfill your moral imperative towards the people of Puerto Rico.” President Trump took little thought of the San Juan Mayor’s plea for assistance. They were sent help, but only enough to make temporary fixes. Once the workers who came to help are sent home, Puerto Rico may dive into a form of chaos that not even the most dangerous storm’s destruction could cause.

It is also a little known fact, that Puerto Ricans can’t even vote. They are US citizens, yet they don’t have voting rights? Every day that fact crushes them more, and when asked why they voted for Trump, they reply simply. I didn’t. Puerto Rico is in great debt, but so is most of America, but because of its large debt, it is almost completely ignored by the authorities of the US.

“It was as if a 50- to 60-mile-wide tornado raged across Puerto Rico, like a buzz saw,” Jeff Weber, a meteorologist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, says. “It’s almost as strong as a hurricane can get in a direct hit.” Hurricane Maria was the strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in 80 years, meaning the mass destruction was more than just physically damaging.

Puerto Rican’s are now dealing with destroyed homes, work places, schools, and a lot of people to shelter and feed. The money they need to recover is sending them into deeper debt, and the unfairness that Puerto Rico is receiving less than states with less damage, is becoming clear.


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