An Update On Puerto Rico: Tuesday, October 17th

By Susan Kuebler

As we approach the one-month mark on the day Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico as a Category 4 (just slightly below a Category 5) hurricane, the situation for the people on the island has scarcely improved.  Try to imagine if your house had been without electricity for over three weeks, that you had no clean drinking water, and the roads were so badly damaged that even if supplies are available, you have  no way to reach them.  FEMA is only delivering supplies to 10 staging centers throughout the island and yesterday your president said it was not the job of the military to deliver these life-saving goods to individuals.

If you are diabetic dependent on refrigerated insulin, you are probably dead by now.  If you are elderly and develop pneumonia, your chances of survival are slim.  You are forced to give your children contaminated water – provided by government officials – because there is no other option for you.  Either you drink the water or you die from thirst.  Helluva choice, isn’t it?

According to the statistics provided by the government of Puerto Rico, because who can trust what FEMA says anymore, fewer than 18 percent of the island has electricity.  That means that 82 percent of the people are still without power, with no relief in sight.

In addition, while a total of 65 percent of the total island has access to drinking water, in some areas such as the northern section of the island, that figure drops to 39 percent.

The numbers of gas stations and grocery stores that are open has remained pretty much unchanged from the end of last week, but again this figure is meaningless if there is no gasoline or food available for sale.  Also the number of barrels of diesel fuel and gasoline offloaded has not changed from last week either.

There is some good news, small though it may be.  Of the 70 assisted hospitals 45 are now operating on electricity.  Although FEMA touts on their webpage that the hospital ship USNV Comfort can treat up to 250 patients at any one time, according to the New York Daily News only 13 of the available beds are currently being used.  Mainly because most people have no information on how to get to the ship.

Internet and cell phone service is slowly being returned to the island.  While 59 percent have access to the internet, only 25 percent of cell phone users have working antennas.  And everyone who owns a laptop or a cell phone knows they need to be recharged frequently – with electricity.  So there are quite a number of expensive paperweights sitting around.

While Trump continues to try to lay the blame for the difficulties in Puerto Rico on Puerto Ricans, The Hill reported yesterday that according to a new CNN poll, the approval for Trump’s handling of hurricane relief has dropped 20 points in one month – from 64 percent after Harvey and Irma to 44 percent post Hurricane Maria.  As Abraham Lincoln said “you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

In the meantime, the number of individual Americans who are responding to the critical needs continues to grow.  One special shoutout to the following man who has gathered more than 20,000 lbs of supplies and worked tirelessly, even after being accused of being a troll, to get this material to Puerto Rico.

People such as him represent true American values, even with a President who is totally clueless.

"All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well". Julian of Norwich.

One comment

  1. Thank you so much for recognizing the work of @USMC_SSDD for his tireless efforts!! Seeing his efforts nearly derailed was devastating!

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