After successive, incapacitating hits from hurricanes Irma and Maria, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico is struggling to recuperate and keep themselves safe with their infrastructure crippled from the two storms. The entire island of Puerto Rico is currently without electricity, and optimistic estimates predict that it will be at least 6 months before power is restored. 97% of Puerto Rico has no cell coverage, making communication next to impossible. Puerto Rican hospitals don’t have running water or electricity, and the 11 hospitals with generators say they may run out of generator fuel and medicine as soon as the end of today. 44% of Puerto Rico is currently without drinking water. Current food supplies aren’t expected to last more than a week, but more food and water shipments are expected to arrive today, and Governor Ricardo Roselló guarantees that there will be sufficient food and water supplies.
Many roads are blocked by debris, and some have been washed away by storm surge. The current death toll is 16. 11,440 Puerto Ricans are still living in shelters. Current estimates say that Puerto Rico has lost more than $780,000,000 in agricultural business alone. Additionally, the Guajataca Dam was damaged by the hurricanes, and is at risk of releasing 11,000,000,000 gallons of water on about 70,000 people. Mudslides and rock slides threaten people and property in the mountainous areas of Puerto Rico, and coastal areas are still experiencing flooding. Emergency responses from the continental U.S. have been lacking so far, with individuals and celebrities helping just as much if not more than the government currently has.
For example, the musician Pitbull sent his personal private jet to Puerto Rico to transport cancer patients in critical condition to the U.S. for treatment. All five living former presidents contributing to the One America Appeal to help Puerto Rico and encouraging others to do the same. Even our own dean at Palmetto High School, Mrs. Beaman, is helping out. The current president initially did little in the way of direct action, citing the Atlantic Ocean as an obstacle.
Yesterday, however, the president repealed the Jones Act, a century-old law that says that only U.S. owned ships can transport cargo between U.S. ports; meaning foreign ships couldn’t previously carry U.S. supplies to Puerto Rico. The repealing of this law means that more people will be able to help.
We wish Puerto Rico and all who call it their home the best of luck.