An Update on Puerto Rico – Tuesday, October 24th

By Susan Kuebler

While it would be nice to report that conditions are improving in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the sad truth is that there has been no significant improvement of any kind since Hurricane Maria struck these islands in late September.  Over 75 percent of the residents of Puerto Rico still have NO electrical power.  The residents of St. Thomas have extremely limited power, while the island of St. Johns has gone over a month without any power whatsoever.  St. Croix has gone backwards with only 1.6 percent of its residents currently with electricity.

However, in its efforts to restore the power infrastructure to Puerto Rico, the federal government has awarded a $300 million dollar contract to a firm named “Whitefish” in Montana that has exactly 2 (two) employees.  Here is what we know about Whitefish:

Not “fishy” at all.

While the government of Puerto Rico reports that 65 hospitals are open, only 45 of them are operating on electricity.  The rest are either dependent on generators, or in some cases, all they have are flashlights.

And though the USNS hospital ship Comfort is docked in San Juan, there are still only 592 miles of navigable roads open on the island, the same since the hurricane hit.  Good luck on getting there.

As far as drinking water is concerned, there are still more that 25 percent of the residents of Puerto Rico without access to fresh water.  And according to FEMA, while 82 percent of the waste water treatment plants are working, all of them are on generator power.

While the official death toll from Maria is currently numbered at 48 in Puerto Rico, there are reports from people on the ground that the number could be much, much bigger – some estimates are as high as 450.  With all the confusion and chaos surrounding the recovery efforts, it will likely be some time before the official death toll is known.

Despite the location of these U.S. territories, there is simply no excuse for the pitiful response by the Trump administration.  Fortunately, all of our living former Presidents, along with thousands of other Americans, have sacrificed their time, their money, and the skills to render assistance to our fellow citizens.

But Trump, and the rest of the Republicans who have chosen to ignore this tragedy (with the notable exception of Senator Marco Rubio) may come to rue their inaction.  Some experts have estimated that as many as 200,000 Puerto Ricans may be forced to relocate permanently to the United States.  They will remember how they were treated.  And they will have the vote.  Ain’t karma a bitch sometimes?

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

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