Puerto Rico’s Humanitarian Crisis

The Commonwealth Puerto Rico is known for its beautiful beaches and amazing scenery but after the passing of Hurricane Maria the panorama has changed for the worst. The island was struck by Hurricane Maria last Wednesday, leaving behind 3.4 million United States citizens without power or water. The hurricane ripped through the island with winds speeds reaching 155 mph. Citizens have described it to be the worst experience in their lives.

“I wish, I would never have to go through something like this again. My house was shaking like an earthquake and water was rushing in from places I would never imagined it to,” said Agnes Crespo, resident of San Juan.

Since the hurricane made landfall, President Donald Trump has declared a state of disaster to cover 100 percent of Federal funding for debris removal and emergency protective measures undertaken in the Commonwealth as a result of Hurricane Maria, for 180 days from the date of declaration.

The government and media have assured the citizens that thousands of federal agents and volunteers have arrived to provide aid but a week has passed and rescue missions are still underway in many parts of the island. Gas stations have queues of about nine to 10 hours and are being safeguarded by armed FBI agents.

FBI Photo

FBI agents guarding a local gas station in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. (Photo by GMM)

Only two hospitals are running with electricity all others have generators or have run out of fuel to function and have had to discharge sick and ill patients.  About 1,360 of the island’s 1,600 cellphone towers are still downed, leaving the residents of the island uncommunicated and hopeless.

Poll Destroyed Guaynabo

Destroyed Electric Pole in San Juan, Puerto Rico (Photo by SCP)

Puerto Ricans suffered the wrath of Hurricane Maria in their bones and flesh but the Puerto Rican diaspora has suffered it as a blow to the heart.  They’ve heard the cry for help and have reached out to the government officials and Puerto Rican communities stateside to promote charity events to help the island. Events all around the United States have been organized to collect funds for United for Puerto Rico; a relief initiative created by the office of the first lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, to manage and distribute aid to the island.

Here in Washington, about 300 Puerto Ricans gathered last Friday in the Hawk ‘N’ Dove, a renowned restaurant and bar near Capitol Hill, to collect donations. During the event, thousands of items were collected as people kept arriving with huge cardboard boxes full of articles. The result were four freight trucks full of donations.

Events like this one could become recurrent in the passing months as Puerto Rico’s humanitarian crisis will last much longer than the 180 days stipulated in President Donald Trump’s state of disaster decree.

This entry was posted in Department of Homeland Security, Development Communication, Diaspora Communication, Disaster Coverage, Editor's Notes, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Puerto Rico. Bookmark the permalink.