Puerto Rico, a United States territory, was struck by Category 4 Hurricane Maria beginning on September 20. Since then, the country has been propelled into a humanitarian crisis. The small chain of islands was hit by 150 mph winds and received 5 inches to over 3 feet in rainfall.
Puerto Rico had already been partially hit by Hurricane Irma on September 7, leaving 1 million without power. 60,000 of those people still had no electricity when Hurricane Maria swept across the main island. Hurricane Maria was the strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in 80 years and was the fifth-strongest storm to ever hit the United States.
This natural disaster has highlighted how oblivious Americans are to their neighbors in Puerto Rico.
According to the New York Times, a mere 54 percent of Americans know that Puerto Ricans are also US citizens— they have been since 1917 with the induction of the Jones-Shafroth Act.
But did they vote for Trump? “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” Trump told Puerto Rican officials at the Luis Muñiz Air National Guard Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico.
Not every president has had the most stellar response to natural disasters. There is no handbook on uncontrollable acts of nature conversation etiquette. However, most would expect more out of a president. And they did. Trump’s approval rating on his response to hurricanes went down by 20 points after Hurricane Maria.
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) October 9, 2017
More recently, Puerto Ricans, desperate for water, have tapped into wells on the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Superfund site. This is one of the nation’s most toxic sites. Some Puerto Ricans have been using this water for bathing and washing clothes or dishes, while some have been using it for drinking water.
Most of those who take advantage of this water source, despite it likely being contaminated, have no clue what it contains. The answer is tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene, two solvents that can increase the risk of cancer as well as liver damage.
Puerto Rico residents are in dire need of food and water. Meanwhile, President Trump is threatening to pull their federal aid. pic.twitter.com/RjBQbUdf28
— AJ+ (@ajplus) October 16, 2017
Trump, again, criticizes Puerto Rico, a country in crisis. He claims he has sent “tremendous amounts of water” to Puerto Rico and faults local distribution for the lack of access Puerto Ricans are experiencing.
Trump on Puerto Rico: "We now actually have military distributing food—something that, really, they shouldn't have to be doing." (via ABC) pic.twitter.com/UUr2qujABr
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 16, 2017
To be clear, here are the stats on Puerto Rico’s struggle as of 24 hours ago. Something must change, and soon.
Cover image via National Geographic