We heard plenty about Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma here in the United States, but Hurricane Maria has been devastating Puerto Rico as well — to the point that some officials are saying it is setting the island back decades.
At least ten people are reported dead, including two police officers, and people have now taken to looting homes and businesses like crazy. It’s the scene no one wanted to imagine, but the reality Puerto Ricans are facing.
Officials are describing the island conditions as “apocalyptic,” with that eery feeling that emerges when electricity is down and the landscape completely destroyed. Reports say that as much as 95% of the island does not have cell service.
Lines of people await resources and materials to keep them alive from the National Guard and people have resorted to washing clothes in creeks, due to lack of options. Many Puerto Ricans are poor and have no resources to back them up — and certainly no flood insurance. It’s going to be a long time before anyone gets back to life as normal on the island.
Just as we saw in Texas, there are photos of gas stations and business parking lots flooded beyond recognition. The difference is that Puerto Rico has less resources to build itself back up with. The Trump Administration called for “emergency loosening” of rules that usually condemn Puerto Rico to status of “second-class citizen” in America, offering the ability to receive more aid.
Federal aid and resources is able to reach the island, bringing in tons of food, water, gasoline, generators and more. However, it is difficult to get resources to smaller, more reclusive towns affected by the hurricane. Though Puerto Rico is already in debt, a federal control board authorized up to $1 billion in local funds to help with recovery efforts.
“Hysteria is starting to spread. The hospital is about to collapse. It’s at capacity,” Mayor Jose Sanchez Gonzalez said. “We need someone to help us immediately.”
Even all the aid they can get right now is not enough — and it will take years to rebuild what Hurricane Maria destroyed. What we know is that the people of Puerto Rico are hurting badly and we should look at them perhaps even more compassionately than those in Texas, who may have had more resources and ability to rebuild due to being on the mainland and more accessible.
Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Puerto Rico.