Tuesday Reads: Puerto Rico’s Humanitarian Crisis

Good Morning!

The image above is from a flyover of Puerto Rico. You can see more on a twitter feed from NYT Primatology. For the past few days I’ve been dealing with a cold that is so draining it has destroyed my obsession with Trump news. The one thing I can still work up outrage over is what is happening in Puerto Rico. Of course that’s about Trump too. He obviously doesn’t give a shit about PR because he’s a motherfucking white supremacist.

BBC News: Does Trump care about Puerto Rico’s hurricane victims?

A quick glance at Donald Trump’s Twitter feed over the weekend – arguably the president’s preferred method of communication – gave no hint of the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

Instead, his attention was firmly focused on whether or not American footballers knelt or stood during the national anthem.

After he noticed he was being criticized for ignoring the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, Trump sent a series of cruel and unfeeling tweets.

This from a man who is blatantly profiting from the office he holds and who has declared bankruptcy six times to avoid paying what he owed to banks.

Back to the BBC article:

…when compared to Mr Trump’s response to the two hurricanes which preceded Maria, there does appear to be an imbalance.

Mr Trump sent at least one tweet out a day about Texas for a week after Hurricane Harvey barrelled into its coastline on 26 August, causing great damage and leaving at least 47 people dead.

By 2 September, he had asked Congress for $7.8bn (£6bn) as an initial amount to help rebuild the area.

Mr Trump also visited Texas twice within a week.

In the days after Hurricane Irma hit Florida on 10 September, Mr Trump sent a flurry of tweets – although not as many as with Texas – and visited the area within five days.

So far, no date has been set for a visit to Puerto Rico, although one is planned.

The wreckage from Hurricane Maria in Arecibo, P.R., on Saturday. Many Americans don’t realize that Puerto Ricans are also citizens. Credit Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

The Washington Post: Trump declares Puerto Rico is in ‘deep trouble’ as questions mount about his commitment.

Monday night’s tweets were the first from Trump about Puerto Rico since Wednesday, when the hurricane made landfall and Trump declared “we are with you.”

Power remains out on much of the island, and officials say they are facing numerous logistical challenges, including damage to airports and ports. But FEMA says its response has been robust, including the deployment of 10,000 federal workers….

Trump’s lack of public attention to Puerto Rico has been striking in part because of the major focus he put on helping Texas and Florida recover from earlier hurricanes, a factor many analysts have cited in explaining Trump’s recent uptick in his job approval numbers.

During a briefing Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was peppered with questions about Trump’s priorities, including his focus on Puerto Rico.

She noted that Trump had dispatched Brock Long, the FEMA administrator, and Tom Bossert, Trump’s homeland security adviser, to assess the damage in Puerto Rico.

“The federal response has been anything but slow,” Sanders said. “In fact, there’s been an unprecedented push through of billions of dollars in federal assistance that the administration has fought for. … And once we have a greater insight into the full assessment of damage, then we’ll be able to determine what additional funds are needed.”

Really? People have no electricity, water, or food, but they are still “assessing the damage” days after the storm hit? It looks to me as if Trump has another Katrina on his hands. I need to see the evidence that he’s actually doing something before I buy the administration’s happy talk.

I don’t know if this is for real or not, but it sure sounds like it:

ABC News: Water and some food scarce as Puerto Rico emerges from storm.

Supermarkets are gradually re-opening in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico but the situation is far from normal and many customers are going home disappointed.

Most food stores and restaurants remain closed. That is largely because power is out for most of the island and few have generators or enough diesel to power them. The shops that were open Monday had long lines outside and vast empty shelves where they once held milk, meat and other perishables. Drinking water was nowhere to be found.

Mercedes Caro shook her head in frustration as she emerged from the SuperMax in the Condado neighborhood of San Juan with a loaf of white bread, cheese and bananas.

“There is no water and practically no food,” she said. “Not even spaghetti.”

Maria Perez waited outside a Pueblo supermarket in a nearby part of San Juan, hoping to buy some coffee, sugar and maybe a little meat to cook with a gas stove that has enough propane for about a week more. “We are in a crisis,” she said. “Puerto Rico is destroyed.”

Jose Garcia Vicente holds a piece of plumbing he picked up, as he shows his destroyed home, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Aibonito, Puerto Rico on Sep 25, 2017. (Photo: AP/Gerald Herbert)
Read more at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/-put-people-above-debt—puerto-rico-official-urges-amid-maria-s-devastation-9252902

Bloomberg: ‘This Is Chaos’: Sweltering Puerto Rico on Day 6 Without Power.

A nursing home in San Juan made desperate pleas for diesel as its power generator ran low. An elderly man was carried out on a stretcher after going a week without dialysis. Children wearing nothing but diapers camped out on balconies to stay cool.

Hurricane Maria, which smashed into the island six days ago and devastated its power grid, couldn’t have come at a worse time. This is Puerto Rico’s hottest season of the year — and virtually no one has air conditioning. Crews have arrived to begin the arduous task of resurrecting what was already an aging and long-neglected electricity system. But that’ll take weeks, if not months — meaning more sleepless nights for those like Juan Bautista Gonzalez.

“It’s brutal,” said Gonzalez, a 36-year-old carpenter who was sitting on a stoop in Old San Juan, rubbing his forehead in frustration. “No one can sleep. I spend all night tossing and turning. This is chaos.”

The destruction that Maria exacted upon Puerto Rico’s fragile grid when it slammed ashore as a Category 4 storm is unprecedented. More than half of the territory’s towers may be down, at least 90 percent of its distribution lines damaged or destroyed and almost all overhead transmission lines affected, according to the American Public Power Association and Energy Department. All told, Maria could result in $40 billion to $85 billion in insured losses across the Caribbean.

In the 32 years that National Guard brigadier general Wendul G. Hagler II has served, he said, “It’s about as large a scale damage as I have ever seen.” Just before Maria hit, Hagler visited the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the majority of homes and businesses also remain without power and face a slow recovery.

Miguel Olivera and his wife Diana Aponte show a picture from his time in service.

CNN: Puerto Rican combat vet, down to last insulin dose, says Hurricane Maria worse than war.

Miguel Olivera, now 75, survived combat and being impacted by Agent Orange in Cambodia as the US waged war against the Viet Cong decades ago.

Now, at home in Puerto Rico, he is facing another threat to his life — a fridge without power.

He needs insulin to survive but his last vial is sitting, at risk of spoiling, in that refrigerator that can no longer keep it cool.

His town, Aguas Buenas, in the mountains above San Juan, was left tattered by Hurricane Maria. The lush tropical foliage is gone — as if a massive lawnmower came from the sky and shredded it all.

Olivera and his wife Diana Aponte, 73, sheltered from the storm inside their home — it’s built on concrete stilts sunk into the hillside, and Aponte feared it would slide into the ravine.

Water came through the shutters as the wind howled outside, and at one point the couple huddled on the living room floor, prepared to die together.

“The hurricane is worse” than combat, Olivera says.

The Daily Beast: Even the National Guard Can’t Communicate in Puerto Rico.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—Master Sgt. Shaun Withers was nervously waiting in his office at the 165th Airlift Wing of the Air National Guard’s strip in Savannah, Georgia, on Sunday morning. Outside a C-130 loaded up with supplies for Puerto Rico also waited in the dark.

“We’re ramping up, today is day one,” Withers said, adding the flight had been postponed several times.

Just then the phone rang, and Withers jumped up.

“It’s a go! Wheels up at 0100 hours!”

It was the fifth and last flight for that day.

“Our first flights brought back 103 members of Puerto Rico’s National Guard, evacuated before Maria hit,” Withers said. “They had not heard from their families since.”

National Guard personnel evacuate Toa Ville resident Luis Alberto Martinez after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, September 22, 2017.

This is an important article, and I can’t do it justice with excerpts. Please read the whole thing. Here’s just a bit more:

“Last night we slept in the operations room,” said Capt. Jeff Rutkowski, sitting in a small break room with five other members of his unit, the 115th Fighter Wing Air National Guard from Madison, Wisconsin.

They’ve been brought in to fix areas left without communication.

“There’s no communication, that’s the problem,” Rutkowski said, adding “we’re innovators, we bridge the networks.”

Without working cellphones or the internet, no one could coordinate. The newly arrived teams frantically borrowed each others’ vehicles to go find out what was going on, where they should go, who they should report to, what was being planned, who was doing what, establish a simple meeting.

No internet meant, too, there was no way of knowing what were urgent priorities in San Juan and throughout the country.

“I’ve never experienced work without being able to communicate,” said an exasperated Michelle Alvarez-Rea, a public affairs officer in charge of multiple media requests.

But Trump is too busy shoring up his base with racist rallies and tweets to deal with this crisis. We’ve got to get rid of him!

One more from The Guardian: Puerto Rico is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. Where is the media?

Hurricane Maria – the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 89 years – devastated the island when it hit early Wednesday morning. If the US government doesn’t act swiftly, 3.5 million people will face a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

Currently, large swathes of the island have no water, power or cell phone coverage. An incredible 1,360 out of 1,600 cellphone towers are down. According to some reports, it could take four to six months for electricity to be restored. Hospitals and other emergency services are struggling to cope.

As Maria made landfall, many Puerto Ricans on the US mainland and elsewhere scrambled to get news of their loved ones on the island. Most, if not all of us, turned to social media. Why? Because we couldn’t trust major media outlets in the United States to give us in-depth coverage of the devastation. Our disasters, we figured, just don’t rate high enough in their eyes.

Sadly – we were proven right. The destruction in Puerto Rico received relatively little media attention compared to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Traditional broadcasters deployed a meager team of reporters. Even the Hispanic broadcasters on the mainland proved wanting in their coverage.

That’s why we relied on social media to relay vital information to family and friends. We used it to tell them which gas stations were open, which markets were still selling food and which banks still had cash. Social media became our life line.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump – usually very active on social media himself – was silent throughout the weekend on Puerto Rico. Instead of standing with those suffering, he chose instead to pick a fight with the NFL. Judging by his actions so far, few trust that he will do anything to bring attention to the devastation on the island, let alone address it in a meaningful way.

Read more at the link.

That’s all I’ve got. What else is happening? Plenty, I know. What stories are you following?

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28 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Puerto Rico’s Humanitarian Crisis”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I hope everyone has a good day. I’m going back to sleep for awhile.

    • Enheduanna says:

      BB – hope you get back to normal soon! Thank you for posting about Puerto Rico – this deserves so much more attention than is being placed on it.

      I’d like to know how the cruise lines are responding to the disaster across PR and the Virgin Islands. What is the Navy ship Comfort doing?

      tRump’s reprehensible tweets about paying debt to Wall Street – after his own lifetime of reneging on debt??? Wow.

    • NW Luna says:

      Good post. Hope you feel better soon. Sleep can be very healing. I think these times are making many of us feel energy-sapped, and then more susceptible to illness.

    • Fannie says:

      Thank you for your postings. The racist pig in office needs to step down. We need to save our Country.

    • joanelle says:

      Thanks, B.B., take care, yes, sleeeeep!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      Where is Kanye West when we need him? Donald Trump does not care about Brown (American Citizens) People!

      • Enheduanna says:

        tRump has made it perfectly clear he doesn’t care about women, LGBTQ, disabled or POC. He reluctantly (sometimes) reads a scripted statement but his actions (and omissions) speak much more loudly. His cabinet appointments alone tell us all we need to know.

        Funny how it’s fine to erect statues of Confederate traitors and fly their battle flag but it’s not OK to kneel during the anthem. Funny that.

        • RonStill4Hills says:

          TREASON is less disrespectful than black knees!

          Message – “Blacky, you are always wrong.” Period.

          I have heard “friends” say, I would be right there with the protesters if they weren’t violent…well that is a lie.

          The only thing less violent than going down on one knee is going down on both knees. Which some have done.

          We are “wrong” for having opinions without permission. Dismissing BLM because sometimes there is violence, is an excuse. “No violence, hmmm, it’s the flag.” “No flag, hmmm it is disrespecting officers who die in the line of duty…” Whatever is handy.

          I have said on this forum before that I believe that the Trump brand of white supremacy would like to recapitulate the central tenet of the Dred Scott ruling : “The black man has no rights that the white man is bound by law to respect.”

          That is how they can say, “WE…LET…THEM, play OUR game and THEY can’t show respect for OUR flag!”

          Not, “These talented, hard working, educated, individuals LET us watch THEM play THEIR game.”

          No, to the Truglodytes “rich, pampered, ungrateful, arrogant, negroes” have no right to thoughts and opinions, much less principles and grievances.

          It is no accident that the Jackass-O-Lantern put special emphasis on the word “OWNERS”.

          I am not sure if that meant much to our white friends, but believe me Black folks heard him loud and clear.

          • Enheduanna says:

            Mnuchin also implied the players were owned and therefore not eligible to speak out. tRump’s objection is based entirely on his racial hatred of black men and women.

            Guys like Mnuchin and tRump will never be able to see things outside their own narrow perspective and vantage point. Ever.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      Great American hero. Never silent!

    • NW Luna says:

      What a great example!

    • Fannie says:

      Super, he’s like us, not getting younger. Luv that photo.

    • dakinikat says:

      That man could play ball. He was a joy to watch.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      11 championships in 13 seasons, the final one as player and coach. Never be equaled.

  3. quixote says:

    The Spamfaced Dump finally commented on Puerto Rico … and as usual it would have been better if he hadn’t.

    I’m glad to see Hillary and the former Presidents trying to mobilize some assistance. It’s horribly like a Katrina flashback.

    Awful.

  4. dakinikat says:

    #DoingwellFEMA is the new heckuva job Brownie …

    maybe we should tell him if he gets them fixed up in can build a hotel there and he’ll show some interest … on tv we just got, i know a lot of Puerto Ricans. WTF?

    • Enheduanna says:

      I’m actually surprised he hasn’t commented on how it’s a real business opportunity for sharks like him to come in and grab up cheap development sites. He did say something similar about the 2008 recession.

  5. dakinikat says:

    Even Dubya got Bill and his Dad together to fundraise for us. They focusd on getting our schools up. I was there when they gave our Chancellor a big check. They also gave money to Dillard and Xavier. That was the December after Katrina and I was one of two teachers actually teaching on campus. I had five students including one that was sleeping in his truck and working. The entire campus was functioning out of the Ed Building. The classroom across from mine was the mail room.

  6. Pat Johnson says:

    Once again President Stupid embarrasses both himself and the country.

    Patting himself on the back for the efforts to send supplies to Puerto Rico by saying the governor there congratulated him was nauseating considering that we are seeing pictures of people struggling to obtain water and food.

    “I work hard” said the Liar and Chief with a straight face, explaining that he could keep check on Puerto Rico, North Korea and the NFL.

    Lucky us! He now wants a law on forcing people to stand for the Star Spangled Banner. Priorities!

    I detest this man.

  7. Enheduanna says:

    Here is some info on ways to support Puerto Rico that I got from Melissa at Shakesville:

    https://www.colorlines.com/articles/how-help-residents-puerto-rico-and-us-virgin-islands-recover-after-hurricane-maria

    She has his press conference from this afternoon (still can’t bear to listen to him):

    http://www.shakesville.com/2017/09/trump-is-disgrace-as-usual.html

    The usual incoherent blather and “uh uh uh” (she provides a short transcript).

  8. Enheduanna says:

    This is also terrible:

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/09/22/hurricane-maria-pharmaceutical-industry-puerto-rico/692752001/

    From the article:
    “Pharmaceuticals represented 72% of Puerto Rico’s 2016 exports, valued at $14.5 billion, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

    Every manufacturer down there has been disrupted.

  9. dakinikat says: