Many residents of Puerto Rico say they have received no help from their government since Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc through the island last week. The storm left nearly all 3.4 million people without power, and most with no water.
The U.S. territory is awaiting the help promised to them from FEMA (United States Federal Emergency Management Agency), but progress is moving slow. In fact, Puerto Rico’s recovery has been mostly a do-it-yourself project for most residents living outside of the capital city of San Juan. People are collecting water from streams and wells, clearing roads, and doing repairs to their own homes.
The U.S. send several thousand federal employees to the island nation, but most are stationed in San Juan. However, generators have been given to hospitals and water has been sent to the hardest hit communities. Power has been restored at the airport, and work continues on the rest of the electrical grid.
Both Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, Puerto Rico’s Congress representative, and the Governor, Ricardo Rossello, say they will seek over $1 billion from the U.S. in federal aid.
It’s hard not to notice this hurricane response looks quite different than past hurricanes that have hit Louisiana, Texas, and Florida. These regions had convoys of power companies from other states, but this is not possible with the island being 1,000 miles SE of the mainland. Relief will arrive, just slowly.
Officials have concluded Hurricane Maria was the worst storm to hit the island in almost 100 years, and recovery will be a lot costlier than Hurricane Georges, which hit the area in 1998.