WEEKS AFTER HURRICANE MARIA, PUERTO RICANS ARE STILL STRUGGLINGDate: 2017-10-19
Four weeks since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, recovery priorities are to make sure food, water and supplies get delivered, to ensure hospitals are operating and communication and energy are re-established for critical infrastructure.
Unfortunately, the island's neglected infrastructure combined with the hurricane's devastation have meant that Puerto Rico's emergence from the "humanitarian crisis" it was thrust into by the punishing storm, has been limited.
Puerto Ricans are still without basic needs while many are still unable to get necessary health care, some of the families on the mainland still cannot reach their loved ones.
“To this day, I have three brothers that I haven’t been able to talk to,” said Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., who has been a leader in pushing the Trump administration to ramp up its recovery response to the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico on September 20.
Velazquez, born in Puerto Rico, kept the pressure on at a forum on the federal disaster response that included administration personnel. “All we want is for someone to tell the people of Puerto Rico, ‘I know your struggle. I know your suffering. We’ll do everything. We will deploy every federal asset because one life that is lost is too many,’” she said.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 72% of Puerto Rico's water authority customers have potable water, while 56% of wastewater treatment plans are working on generator power, 17% of Puerto Rico's electrical company's are back on the electrical grid.
The recovery is requiring coordination of thousands of military troops and federal agency assets while private donations continue to pour in.
“Time is of the essence,” says Philipe Schoene Roura, editor of Caribbean Bussiness. The scale of the devastation and required recovery effort are unprecedented.
“It’s a race against time,” he added.