Puerto Rico Is A Mess Years In The Making [VIDEO]
Puerto Rico Is A Mess Years In The Making [VIDEO]
Just how big of a disaster is Puerto Rico?
It’s so bad that not even their National Guard can show up for duty.
But nine days after Hurricane Maria, a striking trend has emerged: Less than half of the 8,000 members of the Puerto Rico National Guard are on duty. Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the top U.S. officer overseeing military operations on the island, attributed this to a combination of factors. Many personnel are dealing with the devastation in their own lives, he said, and some are providing help in their full-time jobs as police, firefighters or other first responders rather than through the Guard.
The comparatively small number of Guard troops on duty in Puerto Rico appears to underscore a disconnect between pleas made on the ground by civilians on the ground since the storm, and the federal government’s relatively modest response at first. It also may have slowed awareness of how bad the destruction was, with fewer personnel responding early and cataloguing needs.
And no, President Trump is not helping the situation with his tweeting (which is the thorn in the side of every normal person serving in the current administration, I’m sure). But the left is not helping when they go all out on the hyperbole.
Trump plays Marie Antoinette: Sits at his golf club while Puerto Rico suffers… then attacks San Juan Mayor for "poor leadership."
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) October 1, 2017
She has been working 24/7.
You have been GOLFING.
You're going straight to hell.
Fastest golf cart you ever took. https://t.co/5hOY23MBvQ
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) September 30, 2017
Okay, the golfing is not good optics. But the left really should not be throwing stones, considering how Obama golfed after learning that journalist James Foley had been beheaded by ISIS.
So let’s look at some real facts regarding Puerto Rico, some of which we have covered previously on this blog.
Puerto Rico defaulted on its debt in May 2016, and the current administration held a meaningless vote in June 2016 that asked people to consider petitioning for statehood. Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was problematic at best before being destroyed by Hurricane Maria. The government has been called corrupt and inept. The damage that Hurricane Maria wrought is only serving to spotlight every single problem at once.
The mayor that Trump criticized, Carmen Yulin Cruz, has been busy and I don’t doubt that she is sincere in wanting to get people real help. But her optics have been off as well.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 30, 2017
The mayor was raving about no help. There were cases of water/soda behind her. My God, it wasn't T who let infrastructure fall apart. https://t.co/FM2Mpidy7w
— catherine annette (@anantucketlady) September 30, 2017
And just where did she get this T-shirt?
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) September 30, 2017
This might be asking the obvious question here but where did she get a shirt printed in new Fury Road hellscape Puerto Rico? https://t.co/7NpbmUjQY3
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) September 30, 2017
HOw did she get that shirt made when PR is a disaster area??? Did CNN provide it for her????
— Kate Logsdon (@cajunkate) September 30, 2017
I mean, who doesn't have a "HELP US WE ARE DYING" T-shirt laying around? https://t.co/PTOQs5Nf46
— Matthew D. Dempster (@dempstermd) September 30, 2017
And the problem is not that the supplies aren’t present – as you can clearly see behind the mayor. The problem is getting the supplies where they need to be.
Col. Valle is a firsthand witness of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) response supporting FEMA in Puerto Rico, and as a Puerto Rican himself with family members living in the devastation, his passion for the people is second to none. “It’s just not true,” Col. Valle says of the major disconnect today between the perception of a lack of response from Washington verses what is really going on on the ground. “I have family here. My parents’ home is here. My uncles, aunts, cousins, are all here. As a Puerto Rican, I can tell you that the problem has nothing to do with the U.S. military, FEMA, or the DoD.”
“The aid is getting to Puerto Rico. The problem is distribution. The federal government has sent us a lot of help; moving those supplies, in particular, fuel, is the issue right now,” says Col. Valle. Until power can be restored, generators are critical for hospitals and shelter facilities and more. But, and it’s a big but, they can’t get the fuel to run the generators.
They have the generators, water, food, medicine, and fuel on the ground, yet the supplies are not moving across the island as quickly as they’re needed.
“It’s a lack of drivers for the transport trucks, the 18 wheelers. Supplies we have. Trucks we have. There are ships full of supplies, backed up in the ports, waiting to have a vehicle to unload into. However, only 20% of the truck drivers show up to work. These are private citizens in Puerto Rico, paid by companies that are contracted by the government,” says Col. Valle.
With roads washed out and communication abilities gone with no electricity, the situation is chaotic at best. Let us hope and pray that the help and supplies that are actually on the ground can get to the people who need them. But pointing fingers on either side right now does not bring the power back on in Puerto Rico any faster. If the situation before Hurricane Maria was a snowball that was slowly gathering strength to do damage, the hurricane was like an asteroid falling on top of the snowball and flattening everything around it. It will take years – and some very dedicated people with innovative and entrepreneurial ideas – to rebuild Puerto Rico.