Campus

Trump Dismisses Puerto Rico

CSI Students Worry for Their Families After Hurricane

By: Beren Sabuncu

On September 20, category 4 Hurricane Maria caused quite a catastrophe in Puerto Rico just after category 5, Hurricane Irma, passed on Sept 7.

The island, shaken by Irma, was still on the mend when Maria hit.

The latter hurricane had immense detrimental effects on the island’s infrastructure.

Eighty-percent of the island’s power is down and people are running out of clean water, food and fuel.

The fact that 3.4 million U.S. citizens inhabit Puerto Rico should emphasize that Puerto Rico deserves the same treatment that other states would receive if  hit by a devastating hurricane.

President Trump, however, who seems to think otherwise, has received strong backlash for what many deem as lack of compassion and proper attention to this catastrophe.

The Washington Post article titled “U.S. response in Puerto Rico pales next to actions after Haiti quake” states, “Within two weeks, 33 U.S. military ships and 22,000 troops had arrived. More than 300 military helicopters buzzed overhead, delivering millions of pounds of food and water.”

The article continues comparing the response to that of President Trump’s,

“Eight days after Hurricane Maria ripped across neighboring Puerto Rico, just 4,400 service members were participating in federal operations … About 40 U.S. military helicopters were helping to deliver food and water to the 3.4 million residents of the U.S. territory, along with 10 Coast Guard helicopters.”

Even when the initial stage of recuperation is over, Puerto Rico’s economy and infrastructure will suffer the blow for many years to come.

There are a myriad of ways to donate, such as the Red Cross, UNICEF and Direct Relief.

All in all, the island can surely use some help.

The following Q&A is with Xavier M. and Emily B. who are Puerto Rican students at CSI with family still there during this difficult time.

Xavier M. answered these questions.

Q: How did the tragedy affect you and your family?

A: My whole family has been on edge, the first few weeks were tense because there were no ways to see if everyone was okay. Just news reports of large-scale devastation and flooding. Things got a little better when the calls came in, there are still a few relatives unaccounted for, but most of them seem to have made it through the storm okay.

Q: What has your family said about the state of the island?

A: Now they’re worried about supplies. Everyone on the island is old and retired, many are diabetics, and they have no way to access food or insulin. And many are talking about going there in person, but who knows when that’ll be.

Many of their homes are damaged, and while they’re insured, it’s inevitable that insurance companies will try to worm their way out of covering such extensive damage; and since they’re retired and live on a fixed income.

It may take years to even get things back to looking normal. Maybe it never will again. It’s weird seeing the looks on my family’s faces when they see streets they used to play on, and towns they once lived in almost completely wiped out.

They’re an old generation, most of them are dead or will be dead in 10 years or so, and they see the world they knew washed away in salt, water and wind. Every day feels like a funeral, nobody talks about it, but everyone feels it. And there’s nothing we can do.

Q: What are your thoughts on Trump’s actions to aid Puerto Rico?

A: I’m not fond of the President or anyone in his administration. He talks as if FEMA and the army have completely solved the problem and they’re just about ready to pack up.

But letting the Jones Act waiver expire, spending one day in San Juan throwing out paper towels and cracking jokes, and then letting FEMA’s late response go unanswered before stating they “can’t stay there forever” it’s clear he, like all the Presidents before him, couldn’t care less about the island.

The following interview is with Emily B.

Q: How did the tragedy affect you and your family?

A: My family, especially my Tio [uncle] Victor, loves Puerto Rico and I know it would break their hearts to leave, but they may have to.

Q: What has your family said about the state of the island?

A: In PR, 80% of the island is without electricity and 10% is relying on generators. Only 8% -I think- of the roads are operational.

Q: What are your thoughts on Trump’s actions to aid Puerto Rico?

A: I feel insulted and extremely angry at Trump but I can’t say I’m surprised at his response. I feel that he is simply fulfilling the promise he made during his campaign- which was to put the interest of white Americans first. I know he has hinted at withdrawing federal support from PR and that scares me because I know what horrible shape it’s in right now.

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