When people hear the name Puerto Rico, they often think of an idyllic island nation that is surrounded by the clearest waters they have ever seen, shades of blue that they didn't know even existed, bright animals and flowers foreign to the grey and depressing states of the Midwest, Northeast, and majority of middle America.
Prior to fall of 2017, most Puerto Ricans would be in agreement with this statement.
Now, now is a different case. Puerto Rico is in shambles. The majority of the island still does not have power, clean water, or food, and to make matters worse suicide rates have spiked. Puerto Rico has received little aid from the Trump Administration since the hurricane occurred.
So, hurricane Maria may have left the island desolated, but the US's lack of aid has left the island nation to die.
The Trump administration has claimed that Puerto Rico is fine and currently requires no government aide. But when looking at the facts, they could not be more wrong.
First of all, about 450,000 of 1.5 million residents still are without power, and those who do have power often experience blackouts. Problems further worsen when looking at the fact that Puerto Rico has little funding to go off of. The island requires specific conductors and generators to withstand the tropical climate, but these supplies are limited in terms of manufacturers and steep in terms of price.
Furthermore, a good portion of the island lacks clean water and a sustainable food supply. According to FEMA, 95% of the island has access to clean and potable water, but there is no way this claim is feasible.
In 2016, a study was conducted which showed that 99.5% of Puerto Rican’s were exposed to water that did not meet the Safe Drinking Water Act standards. If conditions were that bad in 2016, prior to hurricane Maria, then conditions have worsened tenfold since then.
After four months, FEMA contacted Tribute Contracting LLC — a company with a history of falling through its contracts- to provide the ruined island with 30 million meals, but the company only provided 50,000, which were not even packaged properly.
In 2016, Puerto Rico saw its lowest suicide rate ever; however, following hurricanes Irma and Maria suicide rates have spiked. Hotlines have been bombarded with calls, and call centers are being forced to put hundreds and thousands of people on hold to compensate for the call load.
Overall, Congress has failed Puerto Rico. Decades ago, the US sunk its claws into Puerto Rico for natural resources, but the closer we get to exhausting these resources, the less aid the island receives. Laying claim to a territory is like raising a child - you have to take time, resources, and effort to build it up and make it successful.
At the end of the day, it is us ordinary citizens who will have the greatest impact on Puerto Rico. Just take fifteen minutes out of your day and do some research and donate just $1 — I promise, every dollar makes a difference.