The Puerto Rico Crisis

Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane, ravaged Puerto Rico in early September resulting in 1 million Puerto Ricans without power.

Almost two weeks later, the American commonwealth was struck again by another Category 5 storm, Hurricane Maria.

By the time Maria made contact with Puerto Rico, an estimated 60,000 citizens were still without electricity.

Andrew Mendez, a fourth year Medical Informatics Technology major, was able to reach out to his family in Puerto Rico before the next clash with nature, “I managed to call my cousin the night before the storm asking him how he prepared for it and if my other family members did the same thing. It turns out that everyone went to each other’s houses and set everything up for each other.”

Four days after Maria moved on, Mendez was relieved to hear back from his family, “…we spoke through Wi-Fi and he told me there was no power at all. Not any running water in the houses either. However, everyone I personally know is okay, so I’m grateful.”

The aftermath of Maria resulted in almost the entire population with electricity, and roughly half without proper drinking water and cellphone services.

The tragedy affects not just families and their homes, but hospitals as well. Hospitals require constant power and supplies, and with the current energy crisis they must rely on generators. This causes internal issues such as where most of the energy being generated should go, such as to life-support machines, lights, X-ray machines, and other critical systems. The lives of patients are already in danger as few have been reported to having lost their lives.

Being a Commonwealth of the United States – meaning that Puerto Rican citizens are also considered U.S. citizens – Puerto Rico is capable of receiving aide much of the same way as States. Aide in the form of the National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“There’s not remotely enough aid. I’m just an average person, and just this past weekend we sent my cousin to the island with a massive amount of rechargeable batteries to provide for my family. I’m frustrated because nothing has been getting done with the situation at all,” said Mendez.

President Trump had approved for federal resources to support the recovery a day after the Maria made contact. There have already been voices claiming that the current aide from the U.S. is slow and not enough to restore some balance during the situation. Many organizations have either formed or are focusing on relief for Puerto Rico.

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