Warmer temperatures are increasing the energy and moisture available to hurricanes. … The intensity of Hurricane Maria, which made landfall on Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm on September 20, was part of why it was so devastating to the island and its weak infrastructure, leaving Puerto Ricans in a humanitarian crisis.

Hurricane Maria did not move Puerto Rico into hurricane alley. It had always been in the very center of hurricane alley. 

And adding to the island’s colorful political history were Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and a handful of celebrities who went to the island and chained themselves to trees to protest the US Navy’s military maneuvers on Vieques, a small secondary island that was used by the military stationed at Fajardo’s Roosevelt Roads Military Naval Base.

Islands forcibly pushed the military off the island. The event drew celebrities including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., New York civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton, U.S. Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Chicago and actor Edward James Olmos to the island.

All were jailed for trespassing on federal land, along with more 1,000 local protesters.  After a weight loss of approximately 30 lbs., Sharpton was released from his 90 day jail stint.  Puerto Ricans didn’t appreciate the Navy’s military maneuvers on Vieques.  Rather than do all things possible to keep the Navy happy, the civilians did everything possible to make the Navy feel unwelcome.

It does not escape many that neither Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton have had anything to say about Irma or Maria trashing the island of Puerto Rico. They remain eerily silent.

The islands largest employers were all gone by 2006 followed by two hurricanes in a row that literally devastated Puerto Rico geographically and took a very serious human toll.

Who lives on the island of Puerto Rico?  Mostly the elderly and the very poor. Anyone with even the simplest amount of education finds a way off the island usually right into the US mainland because they are U.S. citizens.

No one but Mother Nature is responsible for that. Not any politician. Not any government. No one. It was a wild act of nature.

As the Eurozone deals with Greece, the U.S. must deal with what’s being described by some as the “Greece of the Caribbean” – Puerto Rico. The Carribbean island’s Governor, Alejandro García Padilla, has warned that if the island can’t pay its $72 billion debt it will descend into a “death spiral”.

His comments followed the publication of an independent report he had commissioned into the main factors crippling the Island economy. These are the three biggest challenges facing Puerto Rico, according to the report.

puertorico2

1. An “unpayable” debt

Puerto Rico’s debt is higher than that of most U.S. States. The island has been borrowing heavily since 2006 and had it been a U.S. state, might have declared itself bancrupt by now. But Puerto Rico is a commonwealth and there’s no legal mechanism under which it could seek protection from its creditors. Changes to the legislation are under discussion. But there’s opposition from American investment funds and citizens who hold most of the debt.

Puerto Rico’s bond rating has been downgraded to junk level, but people continue to buy Puerto Rican bonds due to a U.S. tax break, they are “triple-tax-exempt”, which means that American corporations and citizens don’t pay federal, state, or local taxes. American hedge funds hold approximately $15 billion of Puerto Rico’s debt, with mutual bond funds and individuals holding the rest. This is the main reason why Puerto Rico’s crisis is so relevant to Americans.

2. Economic hardships

Puerto Rico’s economic activity has been slipping for nearly a decade. It started in 2006 when the economy took a hard blow after federal tax breaks for U.S. manufacturing firms in the U.S. were eliminated, resulting in the departure of major businesses on the island. This was followed by the Great Recession following the global credit squeeze after collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, and by 2013, 45.4% of Puerto Ricans were living in poverty — three times the figure for the U.S., according to the American Community Survey.

3. A declining population

The Great Recession of the 2000s sped up migration to the U.S, (all Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens) and as a result the population started falling. According to Pew, Puerto Rico’s population has fallen more in the last three years than it did in the three decades to 2000. Projections suggest the population will continue to fall by 1% a year — 10 time faster than Japan.

 


More concretely, we do know that Puerto Rico’s infrastructure is severely crippled. These are major problems that will make living even in an intact house more difficult in the coming weeks and months.

The storm knocked out 80 percent of the island’s power transmission lines. And as of Thursday, nearly all of the island’s 1.57 million electricity customers were still without power. Many people have generators, and new ones are being distributed, but most homes and businesses are dark because of the ongoing troubles distributing the fuel to run the generators.

It could be four to six months before power is fully restored on the island. That’s half a year with Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents relying on generators, half a year without air conditioning in the tropical climate, half a year that electric pumps can’t bring running water into homes, half a year when even the most basic tasks of modern life are made difficult.

PREPA, the electric company on the island, has a massive $9 billion debt, as Vox’s Alexia Fernández Campbell has explained, and in July it defaulted on an interest payment.

For years, it hasn’t had the money to invest in modernizing Puerto Rico’s electrical systems. Even without hurricanes, power outages are frequent on the island. Making things worse: There aren’t enough workers to fix the infrastructure. Young people have been leaving the island in droves as the economy has tightened, and older workers have been retiring en masse, securing their pensions.

Rebuilding the system on the island will be a long and difficult process. Getting the power back on in Puerto Rico “will be daunting and expensive. “Transformers, poles and power lines snake from coastal areas across hard-to-access mountains. In some cases, the poles have to be maneuvered in place with helicopters.”

Officials are currently prioritizing getting power back on for hospitals.

No electricity means no power to pump water into homes, no water to bathe or flush toilets. FEMA said Thursday that 42 percent of people on the island are without potable water. Arecibo, a town on the northern shore of the island, had only one source of fresh water: a single fire hydrant. Rescue workers have been distributing bottled water, but it’s safe to assume many people haven’t received any yet.

Cellphone towers are knocked out

The storm knocked out 1,360 out of 1,600 cellphone towers on the island. Many communities have been isolated from the outside world for days, relying only on radios for news. National Guard members told the Daily Beast they were struggling to communicate on the ground, making their ability to respond to the disaster exceptionally hard. “There’s no communication, that’s the problem,” said Capt. Jeff Rutkowski.

The cellular outage also means that family on the mainland, or abroad, can’t get in touch with those on the island to find out if they’re safe.

Aftermath cleanup complicated by Teamsters  refusing to drive

One highly contested aspect of the hurricanes bashing Puerto Rico was the confirmation that rescue and recovery operations were being interrupted by Puerto Rican Teamster Union leader Victor Rodriguez who had indeed called for a general strike and never called it off.

He has often used the island’s trucks and truckers to deliberately jam traffic saying he has to remind the public how important the truckers are since the island does not harvest food and everything is flown into the island.

In the wake of this natural disaster, Rodriguez had not called off the strike. In fact, he very proudly boasted that his actions were retaliatory against Gov. Ricardo Rossello.

In this video below he declares that the Governor of Puerto Rico has signed a law (Senate 525) that allows UBER and other types of drivers to earn more cents per mile than the truckers have ever earned or are earning now.

Rodriguez made no bones about the reality that he  had called for a strike and said that “the world would see that this mess may not be cleaned up for at least another two years,” if he so chooses.  Authorities are investigating what laws exist governing the deliberate obstruction of rescue and recovery operations.

 

The status of most hospitals is still unknown

FEMA says 1 hospital is fully operational, while 56 are partially operational, and 5 are closed. The ones that are open are running on generators, but there are serious issues with distributing fuel, and only 19 have received fuel deliveries. So there’s still limited access to X-ray machines, and other diagnostic and life-saving equipment. Few operating rooms are open, which is scary, considering the influx of patients with storm-related injuries.

Puerto Rico has sat on Hurricane Alley as long as it has been an Island. No government is responsible for two hurricanes coming in one after the other and devastating its geography and infrastructure.

The island has many creditors – many of whom refuse to forgive the island’s debts.  But what happened to Puerto Rico was a horrific act of nature or call it what it is, an Act of God.  It is not time to blame or single out any politician. It is a time for reflection and prayer and humanitarian relief on the part of volunteers and professionals working during this devastating tragedy.

If you want to donate to Puerto Rico and its recovery efforts, the following are accepting donations:

Here’s how to help the 3.4 million Puerto Ricans:

Give to UNICEF: The United Nation’s Children’s Fund provides emergency response with a focus on health care and safety for children. More: www.unicefusa.org

• The First Lady of Puerto Rico has launched a fund called “United For Puerto Rico.”

• There’s a Hurricane Maria Community Relief & Recovery Fund organized by the Center for Popular Democracy that supports local Puerto Rican businesses aiding the communities there.

Americares provides urgent assistance to poverty areas stricken by disaster. It is a health-focused organization.

• GoFundMe has curated a destination on its site for all of the legitimate Hurricane Maria assistance funds.

 


This was posted by Luis Cancel whom has always taken a leadership role in common sense and logic. He’s sharing information he received from a friend of his on Facebook which I think is very telling of what’s really happening versus what gets news attention.


Luis Cancel says…

Although you hear a lot from the media about the government’s response, or lack thereof, to the crisis in PR, (you know, it’s all Trump’s fault) here is some info I had not heard. Also, keep in mind that for most disasters, the brunt of the relief effort is done by non-government entities.

Airlift Mission for Maria Relief Expected to Last Weeks

USAF airlifters are operating at nearly a full capacity in support of Hurricane Maria relief operations in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, with that tempo expected to continue for weeks. Forty-six USAF airlift missions flew to Puerto Rico on Thursday, with 66 missions flown on Wednesday, and Air National Guard flights are approaching the maximum capacity, and expected to stay steady for at least two weeks, said Brig. Gen. Keith Wark, the director of operations for the Air National Guard. The initial hurricane response in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands was heavy on air, because of the inability for ships to come in. However, the lack of radar and the state of airfields across the islands limited the pace of initial operations. To date, Air Mobility Command aircraft have flown 200 sorties, carrying 1,500 short tons of cargo to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, Air Force spokesman Col. Patrick Ryder said during a Thursday briefing. The Air National Guard has flown 213 sorties, with 1,000 short tons of cargo and 1,200 personnel on aircraft such as C-130s, C-17s, RC-26s, and KC-135s, Ryder said. For more on the Air Force’s response, see also USAF Answers the Call in Hurricane Maria Relief Efforts and check out Air Force.

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