DISASTERS: HURRICANES : PUERTO RICO : THE CARIBBEAN : POLICITICAL CORRUPTION : UNITED STATES: POLITICS: POLITICAL PARTIES: REPUBLICAN PARTY, TEA PARTY : INDUSTRIES: PETROLEUM : LIBRETARIANISM : SOCIAL ISSUES: IMMIGRATION : RACISM : HATE : ENVIRONMENT: GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE CLIMATE CHANGE: DENIAL : GENOCIDE: What Every American Needs to Know about Puerto Rico's Hurricane Disaster

David P. Dillard
 

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DISASTERS: HURRICANES :

PUERTO RICO :

THE CARIBBEAN :

POLICITICAL CORRUPTION :

UNITED STATES: POLITICS: POLITICAL PARTIES: REPUBLICAN PARTY, TEA PARTY :

INDUSTRIES: PETROLEUM :

LIBRETARIANISM :

SOCIAL ISSUES:

IMMIGRATION :

RACISM :

HATE :

ENVIRONMENT: GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE CLIMATE CHANGE: DENIAL :

GENOCIDE:

What Every American Needs to Know about Puerto Rico's Hurricane Disaster

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What Every American Needs to Know about Puerto Rico's Hurricane Disaster

Nine essential things to know about Puerto Rico's humanitarian crisis.

Updated by Brian Resnick and Eliza Barclay

Oct 16, 2017, 2:27pm EDT

Vox

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/9/26/16365994/
hurricane-maria-2017-puerto-rico-san-juan-humanitarian-
disaster-electricty-fuel-flights-facts

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A shorter URL for the above link:

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http://tinyurl.com/y8zhg26c


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Early on Wednesday, September 20, Hurricane Maria a powerful Category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds made direct landfall on Puerto Rico, bisecting the entire island and drenching it with feet of rain. Whats happened since has been truly catastrophic for Puerto Rico.

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Theres still little power on the island. In many places, theres still no water to drink or bathe in or to flush toilets. Theres limited food and cell service, and dozens of remote villages have been completely cut off from everything for weeks.

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Make no mistake this is a humanitarian disaster involving 3.4 million US citizens, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossellsaid the Monday after Maria hit.

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The initial recovery response from the US federal government has been lackluster, and President Trumps comments have not inspired confidence. After dwelling early in the week on the facts that 1) Puerto Rico is an island, and 2) Puerto Rico is in massive debt, the president and his senior officials then went on the defensive, describing the administrations response so far as a good news story. The Federal Emergency Management Agency still has not authorized full reconstruction aid to Puerto Rico.

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Help us. Without robust and consistent help we will die, Carmen Yul Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, said in a statement on October 12. Mr. President, fulfill your moral imperative towards the people of Puerto Rico.

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This is still a terrible disaster that deserves more coverage and a better-coordinated response and both appear to have been impeded by widespread confusion about Puerto Ricos relationship to the United States and the severity of its current situation. Heres what every American needs to know.

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1) 3.4 million US citizens live in Puerto Rico, and they are entitled to the same government response as any state. But half of Americans dont even know that.

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2) Hurricane Maria was like a 50-mile-wide tornado that made a direct hit on the island

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3) Theres not enough water or food on the island. Power will be out for months in some places.

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4) Puerto Ricos economy is in shambles, and the storm will make it worse


As Voxs Ferndez Campbell explains, Puerto Ricos government is broke. Its infrastructure is aging and in disrepair on a good day. And it cant borrow money to fix it. In May, Puerto Rico which has a $103 billion economy declared bankruptcy, and it has since then been trying to restructure more than $70 billion in debt. The islands finances are currently controlled by a federal board, which made just $1 billion available for relief, the Associated Press reports.

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Certain US policies have contributed to Puerto Ricos economic deterioration. One of them is the Jones Act (different from the Jones-Shafroth Act mentioned above), an antiquated law that forces Puerto Ricans to pay nearly double for US goods through various tariffs, fees, and taxes. The act stipulates that any goods shipped from one American port to another must be on American-made and -operated ships. As Voxs Matthew Yglesias explains, it means shipping to Puerto Rico is more costly because theres little competition among freighters.


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5) Experts believe the death toll could reach into the hundreds


With each passing day, were learning more about the frightening conditions on the ground, from the sick being turned away from barely functioning hospitals to mothers desperate for water for their babies. But one figure is disquietingly absent: an accurate death toll.

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As of October 16, the official death toll was 48. But for nearly two weeks after the storm, the official death count didnt budge from 16. During his visit to Puerto Rico, President Trump said officials should be very proud of that number, as it doesnt compare to a real catastrophe like Katrina.

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But there is good reason to believe the actual figure is in the hundreds, according to a Vox analysis of public information, which found 81 deaths confirmed by officials as linked to the storm and reports of another 450 deaths without a known cause of death. Voxs analysis suggests that the government is being very cautious in designating deaths as directly or indirectly hurricane-related, and painting a less severe picture, compared to the public information available.

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In Puerto Rico, as in any disaster situation, health hinges on electric power: Dialysis, refrigeration for insulin and other medicine, and nebulizers for people with asthma all need electricity to be useful. But it goes deeper than that: Electricity provides for the sanitation that prevents many illnesses like typhoid from spreading in the first place.

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Across Puerto Rico, people need electricity to get clean water from the faucet and flush the toilet, Voxs Julia Belluz writes. They also need it to keep their air conditioning systems running. Without it, theres the looming risk of people getting sick from dirty water, waste that cant be disposed of, or heatstroke.

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6) The US government is responding to the disaster, but its going slowly

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7) Trump could be doing much more to help

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Trump traveled to Puerto Rico on October 3. It's the earliest I can go because of the first responders, and we don't want to disrupt the relief efforts, he said the previous week. He also said the disaster response on Puerto Rico will be tougher than the one in Texas for Hurricane Harvey or in Florida for Irma because it's an island.

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Trump also amended the disaster declaration, increasing the amount of funds available for recovery in Puerto Rico. And he authorized the temporary waiver of the Jones Act. But then it expired and wasnt renewed.

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As Voxs Tara Golshan reported, the House passed an emergency relief package that would direct $36.5 billion toward recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, California, and other communities affected by natural disasters. But 69 Republicans voted against it, ostensibly because it would be too big a blow to the deficit.

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As of Tuesday, FEMA had yet to authorize reconstruction aid for Puerto Rico a level of assistance it has already authorized for Texas and the US Virgin Islands. This type of help is a crucial source of funding for governments to repair damaged infrastructure.


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8) Other Caribbean islands are hurting too

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The complete article may be read at the URL above.

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Sincerely,
David Dillard
Temple University
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