This morning U.S. President Donald Trump blamed Puerto Rico for the crisis it is facing after Hurricane Maria wrecked havoc on the island three weeks ago.
Ninety percent of the 3.4 million residents continue without power, but Trump claimed Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was a “disaster” before the hurricanes. He then said, “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. Forever!”
…We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2017
Republican Representative Scott Perry came to Trump’s defense, stating that federal assistance was meant to be finite, and it was “reasonable” for the island to eventually take up its own governance.
Congress is set to approve a $36.5 billion emergency package for Florida, Texas, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and for the parts of California affected by wildfires. However, it’s not yet clear how that financing would be distributed between the regions. We do know that $18.7 billion will go to the FEMA disaster relief found.
First-hand account of the crisis in Puerto Rico
One person sent out a text message from Puerto Rico via cellphone, as they had no access to the Internet. Though the writer is anonymous, their friends have since helped get out their message, which describes the crisis in Puerto Rico in moving detail.
“Its 0400 as I write this, can’t sleep again. I keep thinking about what needs to be done,” the message begins.
“The situation here can only be described as dire. Although we have a generator, we have been using it sparingly as our 6-year-old needs to use her nebulizer at least twice a day, so we use that time to charge batteries, cell phones, keep the fridge cold and the ice frozen … 100% of the power is gone. I’m not saying the power is out, I’m saying that the power lines are on the ground, snapped, shredded, and displayed at foot level from one end of the island to the other …95% of all cell service is out. Cars are lined up two lanes deep in places with people just trying to get a cell signal so they can reach their families on the mainland and other parts of the island.”
No power, no streetlights, no way to use bank cards
The writer goes on to describe how few people have access to water, and the “threat of cholera and other diseases is very real.” Gas lines are two to three miles long, and on Saturday the writer paid “$32 for two 6-packs of Evian as I bought some chips and salsa for my wife and lollipops for my girls. Cash only of course, as there is no internet for the use of a debit or credit card.”
No one is directing traffic, there are no streetlights, and trees, signs, poles, and other debris still block roads around the city. People are lining up for half a day to withdraw money from the bank.
Drowned animals causing putrid smell
“The Stink (sic). This is something not reported by the news agencies. Drowned birds, mice, rats, and other poor creatures killed by the storm have washed into the drains. The rich stench of decomp (sic) can be smelled on nearly every corner. The rotting leaves and branches lodged in the gutters and drains have become pervasive,” the Puerto Rican resident wrote.
At least $3,000 for a one-way plane ticket
There are also problem with fire ant infestations and looting, and airline prices to Miami have skyrocketed, at $3,000 for a one-way ticket.
“The airport has been inundated with people trying to leave the island. American Airlines, Southwest, United, and Jet Blue all have waiting lists of more than 2,000 people. Only 10 flights are going out per day,” they wrote.
Hospitals are full
One nurse said to the writer’s wife, “It’s like the end of the world here. We might not be the only hospital open, but it sure feels like it.”
My friend’s family in #PuertoRico had their last bottled water yesterday morning.
No other source of drinking water.
No help on the way.
— Pé Resists (@4everNeverTrump) October 11, 2017
— Olivia Pope (@OliviaResists) October 12, 2017
How to help people in Puerto Rico
Given that even care packages sent from the U.S. can’t be delivered, the Puerto Rican resident urged people to share information about what is really happening on the island. “We need all the help we can get,” they wrote.
People can also donate to American Logistics Aid Network and to the World Central Kitchen, where chefs are on the ground in Puerto Rico, preparing meals out of food trucks.
— Tamara Pearson