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Trump Administration Slow to Respond to Puerto Rico Disaster

Graphic By Sarah Wagner

Graphic By Sarah Wagner

Iris Valentin, Staff Writer

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Just days before Hurricane Maria Sept. 18, numerous hurricanes hit the Caribbean, particularly Puerto Rico. Maria crashed into the “Island of Enchantment,” without mercy. Maria struck Sept. 18 just as Hurricane Irma left major damage to Puerto Rico. Maria had shown no mercy, causing damage to the island’s treasured rain forests. Now, destroyed homes, businesses and schools are all that sit adjacent to the barren landscape.

While the struggles of Puerto Ricans have dominated headlines, the humanitarian  rebuilding efforts have been slow, making an already bad situation worse.

“When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good news story. When you have to pull people from their buildings…I’m sorry but that really upsets me….This is not a good news story. This is a ‘people are dying’ story,”  San Juan’s mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said, responding to Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke who recently called the tragedy in Puerto Rico “a good news story.”

And Cruz is right, this is not “a good news story,” but a tragedy that has prompted reflection of how many people are still in need of help, which is important and merits a serious response from the administration and U.S. citizens in general. Luckily, there has been some support for the island.

Telemundo aired “#TodosUnidos” Sept. 24, a relief campaign that featured Latino artists and celebrities taking calls for contributions to the victims of Hurricanes Jose, Maria and the earthquake in Mexico back in Sept. 19. According to PRNewswire, Telemundo raised over $12.9 million, including the station’s contributed $500,000 sent to the island.

While these efforts have helped, others continue to wait under the hot sun in order to be rescued off the island to reunite with their loved ones, or leave the place that was known as home.

It is imperative that Americans and others continue sending their support to aid the people still in need.  

“I cannot fathom the thought,” Cruz said, “that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out the logistics for a small island of 100 miles by 35 miles long. So I am asking the President of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives.” 

I cannot fathom the thought that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out the logistics for a small.

— Carmen Yulin Cruz

As a commonwealth of the U.S., the island is known as a territory with a representative in the senate’s House. Having a similar constitution as the U.S., Puerto Ricans participate in the presidential election, even though they have a representative. Part of the population includes U.S. residents on the island that were affected by the previous hurricanes.

If the island is recognized to have U.S. citizens affected by Hurricane Maria, then there should be no difference if a state was hit by a natural disaster.

While Puerto Rico is recovering from the Hurricane Maria, there has been slow progress.

Unfortunately many news outlets are covering  the president’s rhetoric about the relief effort, because there seems to be more talk about the situation than anything else.

Yes, ships and supplies have been sent, but the U.S. is not attacking the situation seriously enough. It should not be just celebrities and big business companies helping; the government should be sending in more supplies and first aid.

More doctors should be sent to help the citizens who are in need of medical attention.

While the government drags its feet and claims the effort is going well, anyone can help Puerto Rico right now, as they should.

On the island’s official website is a statement asking for support to recover from Maria.

The American Red Cross is also asking for donations for hurricane relief. On their website there is information about how to contribute.

This is the time to act and for Americans to show that no matter where they live, Americans come together united to help a state like Texas or Florida, or a territory like Puerto Rico.

While Puerto Ricans do not share the same voting rights as state citizens, as a commonwealth tied to the U.S., they are considered U.S. citizens.

These citizens are in need of great help, and by supporting relief efforts through the official website and contacting the American Red Cross, Americans can make a difference.   

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Trump Administration Slow to Respond to Puerto Rico Disaster