Maria’s Impact on Puerto Rico

Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2017 11:15 am
Puerto Rico took a direct hit from a category 4 hurricane. It will take a long time to rebuilt the damage. This thread is primarily meant to share news about the damage and reconstruction process.

New York Times:

Daybreak in Puerto Rico on Thursday exposed the crushing devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria — splintered homes, crumbled balconies, uprooted trees and floodwaters coursing through streets.

The storm cut a path through the island on Wednesday and 100 percent of the territory remained without power. Officials predicted that it could take months to restore electricity as rescue brigades ventured out to assess the toll of death and injury.

Puerto Rico faces numerous obstacles as it begins to emerge from the storm: the weight of an extended debt and bankruptcy crisis; a recovery process begun after Irma, which killed at least three people and left nearly 70 percent of households without power; the difficulty of getting to an island far from the mainland; and the strain on relief efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other groups already spread thin in the wake of several recent storms.

“Irma gave us a break, but Maria destroyed us,” Edwin Serrano, a construction worker in Old San Juan, said.

Maria had entered Puerto Rico’s southeast side on Wednesday with category 4 winds of 155 miles per hour, then lost strength, regained power Thursday and continued its furious roll northward, bringing pounding rains and heavy winds to the Dominican Republic.

Officials cautioned that it could deliver dangerous storm surges to the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, which were already reeling from the effects of Hurricane Irma.

Most predictions suggested that Maria would veer north and spare the mainland United States. But officials cautioned that the East Coast was still not out of danger and even absent the storm’s main fury, coastal areas could still feel its effects this weekend with heavy rains and dangerous gales.

Rubble atop a car in the Puerta de Tierra area of San Juan, P.R., on Thursday.

Trajectory of the storm's eye:


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Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2017 11:32 am
The news I have been watching doesn't have much to say about it.
Reply Fri 22 Sep, 2017 12:36 am
Yes, Puerto Rico is being forgoten. I guess some people in the media are afraid it could happen to mainland US, so they look the other way.
Reply Fri 22 Sep, 2017 04:32 am
It's a US territory. I think they are reluctant to get involved, because Puerto Rico is money poor and needs lots and lots of help.
Reply Fri 22 Sep, 2017 11:28 am
Yes, that too.

Aerial view of Roseau, the capital of Dominica, and the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, September 22, 2017

Residents use a kayak to travel on their flooded street in Juana Matos, on the island of Puerto Rico, on September 21, 2017 after Hurricane Maria

A man examines the remains of his house in Catano, Puerto Rico, on September 21, 2017 after Hurricane Maria
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Reply Fri 22 Sep, 2017 11:34 am
still haven't heard from my friends in Guadaloupe

colleagues have family/friends/land in Dominica

Puerto Rico is destroyed - they're saying it could be months before they get electricity back

it's simply awful
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Reply Sat 23 Sep, 2017 02:06 am
70,000 in Puerto Rico urged to evacuate with dam in ‘imminent’ danger

By Samantha Schmidt, Katie Zezima, Sandhya Somashekhar and Daniel Cassady September 22 at 10:37 PM

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO — Tens of thousands of residents in northwestern Puerto Rico were ordered to evacuate Friday amid fears that a dam holding back a large inland lake was in imminent danger of failing because of damage from Hurricane Maria’s floodwaters.

Officials worried that as many as 70,000 people could be in the path of a massive amount of rushing water in the event the Guajataca Dam releases into the Guajataca River, which flows north through low-lying coastal communities and empties into the ocean.

Abner Gomez, executive director of Puerto Rico’s emergency management agency, said in an interview late Friday night that the dam’s gates suffered mechnical damage during the storm, making it impossible for them to open and let out normal water currents. Officials worry that could cause the dam to spill over.

Residents in the municipalities of Quebradillas, Isabela and part of San Sebastian could be affected if the dam collapses, he said, and it could be a catastrophic event.

“To those citizens … who are listening: Please evacuate,” Puerto Rico Gov. Rosselló said. Buses were sent to ferry residents out of harm’s way. “We want your life to be protected … Please, if you’re listening, the time to evacuate is now.”

[emphasis added. I guess it's hard to warn 70,000 people without functioning telephone, radio and TV networks.]

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Reply Tue 26 Sep, 2017 09:15 am
Robert Reich
1 min ·
Puerto Rico may be months without power, and many of the 3.5 million American citizens there are in danger. Flash flood warnings cover the entire island, which continues to be lashed by heavy rain in the storm's wake.
But Trump spent the weekend focused on whether or not American footballers knelt or stood during the national anthem. When he finally acknowledged Puerto Rico’s disaster last night, he linked it to Puerto Rico’s debt problems, tweeting: “Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble.” Trump’s vision of American patriotism apparently doesn't include Americans coming to the aid of other Americans.
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Reply Fri 29 Sep, 2017 12:55 pm
A summary of the US press by Courrier International.

Is Puerto Rico Trump's Katrina?
Published on 27/09/2017 - 13:25
Gabriel Hassan
Transl: Google + o5

After the passage of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico desperately needed help.

The response of the president and federal authorities to Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico, has been highly criticized. Already in full economic crisis, the island feels completely abandoned by Washington.

"Trump ignores the sufferings of Puerto Rico" (Slate); "America has deserted Puerto Rico devastated by Hurricane Maria" (USA Today); "Where is the urgency in the answer to Puerto Rico?" (The Boston Globe). These are some of the op.eds titles published in the American press in recent days.

"The Trump administration's weak response to Hurricane Maria is similar to that of Bush after Katrina," the hurricane that struck New Orleans in 2005, advances Slate's Phillip Carter, a military specialist. The late reaction and unpreparedness of the federal authorities had been catastrophic for the image of President George W. Bush.

Second-class Citizens

"There is no eagerness, as was the case after Hurricane Harvey in Texas, to approve the emergency aid funds that Puerto Rico definitely needs," says a Washington Post columnist. There has been no mass movement of troops and equipment in the direction of Puerto Rico [...]. President Trump, so visible when Harvey and Irma hit [Florida], more or less ignored the devastation caused by Maria, paying more attention to American football matches.

As the center-left journalist reminds us, the 3.4 million American citizens living on the island, with the special status of "associated free state" in the United States , have long been reduced to being second-class citizens: they have no elected representatives in Congress, do not participate in presidential elections, do not benefit from the same social assistance and suffer from a high poverty rate. [...]

Abandoned by America

The response of the media is also denounced. "You have not seen much television coverage or terrible images of people dying under the rubble," said a USA Today columnist. President Trump, the Congress and, in fact, the whole country, "miserably abandoned Puerto Rico."

Under the fire of critics, President Trump finally announced on Tuesday 26 September that he would visit next week on the island. In saying that his administration was doing "really very good work".

The situation could worsen

Time is running out. An out-of-service electrical network, devastated crops, 60% of the island deprived of water, 16 dead: the damage is considerable, notes The Boston Globe. The absence of electricity and medical equipment, the lack of drinking water create the conditions for a possible health crisis, explains The New York Times.

Already in the midst of an economic crisis and bankrupt since last spring, the island is not prepared to face the disaster. "Puerto Rico, already broke, is broken," says the Boston Globe. "My native land is destroyed. President Trump, Puerto Rico needs your help," says in USA Today a reporter from the island.
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Reply Sat 30 Sep, 2017 07:58 am
The Puerto Ricans are coming
By José A. Cabranes and Félix López, WAPO, September 27

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, a vast internal migration of U.S. citizens is likely in the months ahead, as tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans, possibly 1 million or more over time, choose to move to the U.S. mainland. If this migration occurs, it will be an additional, slow-motion disaster inflicted on an island that can ill afford to lose any more of its best and brightest. As the federal government considers how robustly to respond to Maria, it should keep in mind the need to avoid compounding the already catastrophic damage the island has suffered.

The storm destroyed Puerto Rico’s fragile power grid. Estimates suggest that power may not be fully restored for many months. If this is so, Puerto Rico’s already struggling economy will be crippled for years, trapping more than 3 million of our fellow citizens in an economic nightmare. Maria damaged dams, bridges and roads, demolished homes and businesses, and wiped out much of Puerto Rico’s admired greenery.

Puerto Rico, of course, is hardly alone in suffering hurricane damage, and the federal government must continue its recovery programs in Texas and Florida. But as an isolated island with no power and little communication, it is experiencing a dire crisis. Should basic services fail to return soon, social and economic disorder will prompt willing and able Puerto Ricans to seek temporary, or possibly permanent, refuge among friends and relatives already living on the mainland. They are likely to choose warm-weather localities that are familiar, hospitable and welcoming, such as Texas and Florida, currently confronting their own natural-disaster recovery. About 1 million Puerto Ricans already live in the Sunshine State, and Puerto Ricans are projected to soon pass Cubans as the largest group of Latinos in the state.

Any such migration can only accelerate and deepen the social and economic crisis in Puerto Rico. This is because it will consist in large measure of the educated and professional middle classes — those who came to maturity in the past five decades as a result of the island’s justly celebrated program of economic development and modernization. Large numbers of Puerto Rican medical doctors, engineers and teachers have already left the financially strapped island for Texas, Florida and other states.

Until the 1940s, Puerto Rico was a desperately poor agrarian society, an embarrassment to an American empire whose armed forces had seized the island from Spain during the Spanish-American War of 1898,promising Puerto Ricans “the advantages and blessings of our enlightened civilization.” By 1917, the people of Puerto Rico had become U.S. citizens with an elected bicameral legislature and a governor appointed by the president. Puerto Ricans have elected their own governor since 1948, and their 1952 commonwealth constitution resembles in most respects the basic law of an American state, except that Puerto Rico’s more than 3 million American citizens have no voting representation in Congress.

The Puerto Rican constitution represents the faith that Puerto Ricans placed in the American project. In the 1950s and ’60s — when many of its Spanish-speaking neighbors flirted with or turned to Marxism — Puerto Rico embraced democratic self-government, tax and labor policies specially tailored by a sympathetic Congress, and free-market economics. It became an exemplar of how a colonial people under the American flag could lift itself from poverty without communist depredations.

Of course, all Puerto Ricans are deeply conscious that the island’s subordinate political status has made them unusual U.S. citizens. Nonetheless, Puerto Ricans know that they are entitled to the protection of the United States and that they are free to move to the continental United States and — in the words of a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court — become “residents of any State there to enjoy every right of any other citizen of the United States, civil, social and political.”

The freedom to travel is a fundamental constitutional right, and citizens in Puerto Rico are free to exercise it. But as lawmakers consider a new round of disaster relief funding next month, they should keep in mind: The damage of a hurricane can be repaired only after the fact. The damage of large outward migration can be prevented, at least in part, by assuring Puerto Ricans that they will have a promising future at home.

José A. Cabranes, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, is the author of “Citizenship and the American Empire,” a legislative history of the U.S. citizenship of the Puerto Rican people. Félix López is the former regional director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration in New York.

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Reply Tue 3 Oct, 2017 03:12 pm
Dan Rather
41 mins ·
Human deaths are not a scoreboard tally. An island dealing with no power and no drinking water is a catastrophe. You don't feel the enormity of a situation sitting in an airplane hanger. And you don't tell people dealing with a life and death crisis that they are throwing the U.S. budget out of whack - especially after unveiling a tax bill with billions of giveaways to the very wealthy.
Yet that is exactly what President Trump did, and much more, on a short hop over to Puerto Rico that was more about optics than action. Judged on this visit and all that preceded it, there is an emerging view among many Americans that the President really doesn’t seem to care much for the plight of the millions on the island who face great uncertainty and insecurity in the weeks and months to come. Many experts in disaster relief feel that the death toll will climb unless there is more help, fast. Yet Mr. Trump shrugged off 16 reported deaths so far (the number is almost assuredly higher) when compared to the "thousands" who died in "a real catastrophe like Katrina."
And then the President did what he always seems to do, boasted about how well he is doing. It is incumbent on the press to keep the story of Puerto Rica in front of the American people and policy makers. This is something that will not pass soon, and we will continue to bring you regular updates on this page.
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Reply Wed 4 Oct, 2017 06:28 pm
It will be interesting to see how responsive Trump is if there is substantial damage from the new storm that's entering the Gulf.
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Reply Mon 9 Oct, 2017 01:53 pm
As some Puerto Rico mayors stumble, U.S. militarizes relief campaign
OCTOBER 08, 2017 6:17 PM

As U.S. soldiers Sunday handed out dozens of boxes of emergency food and water rations in this coastal town, a federal relief official pronounced himself satisfied.

“They seem pretty happy right now. I think it’s going great,” said Patrick Hernandez, assistant administrator for field operations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Just a few feet away, Serafin Roman looked through cyclone fencing at the distribution scene and offered a radically different view: “It’s nasty. People are desperate. They got no water.... Some people are starving.”

The scene put a vivid spotlight on the gap between some government views of relief efforts for Hurricane Maria, and a somewhat testier view on the street. In some corners of Puerto Rico, deep into the third week of recovery efforts, a smattering of Puerto Ricans said they feel forgotten and vulnerable. Residents and city officials often tell drastically different stories about the frequency of food distribution.

Responding to the evolving crisis, U.S. military officials spelled out Sunday how they will alter the distribution of food, water and fuel to many of the island’s 78 municipalities, militarizing relief efforts in a significant way as some mayors stumble on the job.

Prior to this weekend, relief supplies were delivered to 10 regional staging areas on the island, and mayors were largely responsible for arranging pick-up and distribution.

But Brig. Gen. Jose J. Reyes, assistant adjutant general of the Puerto Rico National Guard, said in an interview that a new strategy calls for placing 10 to 20 soldiers in each municipality, providing them with vehicles and logistical support, and tasking them with delivering relief to each neighborhood.

“We need to push it directly to the barrio to ensure that everyone’s getting it,” Reyes said. “They will have some vehicles. They will have radio communications as well as logistics support.... They are going to be living there. They are going to be operating 24/7.”


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Reply Mon 9 Oct, 2017 02:05 pm
The whole thing is a kick in the pants to the island, but at last the responders are doing more of their job than before.
Reply Mon 9 Oct, 2017 02:19 pm
The army is the best first responder in these cases. They have the tools: transport, communication, health, rescue etc.
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Reply Thu 12 Oct, 2017 06:15 am
Where they stand now.
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Reply Thu 12 Oct, 2017 07:47 am
Our asshole president is threatening to withdraw aid from the island. Blaming them for everything.
Reply Thu 12 Oct, 2017 11:40 am
Everyday, Trump proves he IS a sodding moron.
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