Editorial: Puerto Rico’s Perseverance

In 1898 the small island of Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States. In 2017, the same island faced tragedy after being impacted by two massive hurricanes.

Hurricane Irma hit north of the island, damaging but not destroying parts of the land and people. However, when Hurricane Maria hit, the people of Puerto Rico were hit directly and were affected enormously.

After Hurricane Irma, Puerto Rico served as a shelter to many of the nearby Caribbean islands according to CNN. People fled their homes after losing everything, or close to.

Then on Sept. 20, those evacuees and the ones who sheltered them braced as they would be hit once again by a category 5 storm.

In the two weeks since Maria took its fury out on the island of Puerto Rico, a lot of damage control is taking place, or at least trying to.

According to CNN News only 5.4 percent of the citizens on the island have power, and 12.1 percent have cell service. Many people in the states have expressed concerns through social media that they cannot contact their families and have no knowledge of their whereabouts.

Without power, many people who are in need of medical attention are going without. As of Wednesday, only 14 of Puerto Rico’s hospitals have electricity. There are 3.4 million residents on the island.

51 hospitals are out of power and in need of generators. Without electricity, patients on life support will not be able to sustain.

There is also the issue of the roadways. There are some cities that are inaccessible due to roads being obstructed or destroyed. This has made it difficult to deliver food and water as well as medications and other supplies. There has also been an issue with fuel for the trucks.

With the devastation, we may wonder what is being done to aid these hurting people?

The Trump Administration temporarily waived the Jones Act eight days after the hurricane hit. This waiver allowed supplies to be delivered to the island without delay.

However, President Trump has faced backlash for what people are calling insensitivity toward the people of Puerto Rico.

In a series of tweets, he has said, “Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”

He has also tweeted, “Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble.

“Much of the island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”

In a time of such despair, monetary debt cannot be compared to the lives of those suffering, nor should it be a factor in aid.

It should also be remembered: Puerto Rico is a part of the United States. The citizens of Puerto Rico are also U.S. citizens. Should they not expect the same help as Florida and Texas after Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma?

On Tuesday, the president made a trip to the island, two weeks after the hurricane hit. During his time there, he made comments about Puerto Rico’s debt and said they should be thankful this was not as bad as “a real catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina.”

Although the comments from our country’s leader may have come off as offensive to many, thankfully the president and his administration have vowed to see the island through to healing, and hopefully so.