Puerto Rico – two weeks on

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Credit: TIME

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico two weeks ago and the depth of the atrocity is still being unravelled.

The storm knocked out the main power supply, leaving more than 90% of the island’s 3.4 million residents without electricity. Supplies are short and many have no access to clean drinking water.

The latest news is that Puerto Rican authorities have said that it will take four months, maybe even eight months, to restore power. This will have severe repercussions as a result. Electricity is a necessity for all of us reading this, so could you cope without it for four months? No heating, no internet, accommodation, and hospitals cannot run without electricity. The reliance on generators is proving difficult.

In such dire conditions, many are thinking of leaving and moving into the mainland of America. They have every right to do so as they are US citizen; Puerto Rico’s economic crisis has made many leave in recent years, in high numbers. These can all be considered as the main push factors for migration.

This is going to have a huge political effect. Florida and New York are popular for Puerto Ricans to move to. Florida is home to 1.5 million Cubans but Puerto Ricans make up nearly 900,000 of the population, catching up in numbers.

States are normally divided into blue states (Democrats) and red states (Republican). However, Florida is a mix and has been held by both. Puerto Ricans living in Florida are known to be more conservative than those in other areas. The POTUS just visited this week, on Tuesday.

As Washington Post has said, extraordinary crises are a good test of leadership for presidents. It is clear that Trump has failed this test. His comments were demeaning. There was no empathy behind his words and this was clear to see.

A natural disaster is a natural disaster. It doesn’t matter the scale, it causes chaos everywhere and for everyone. A person’s world is shattered, leaving them to pick up the pieces and try to make sense of everything again. Myself and many around the world know that Trump does not understand how serious this issue is.

The atrocity that occurred isn’t being given much coverage as it deserves. It is being glazed over.

For Trump to make comments like the following show that he has not an ounce of empathy.

One quote was that Puerto Ricans “can be very proud of” a small number of deaths caused by the hurricane. At this point, the official death toll was 16. Now, the death toll is at 34.

Another quote, claiming that Puerto Rico had not experienced a “real catastrophe, like Hurricane Katrina.”

No one is safe from Trump’s criticism. The tweets he aimed at the Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, showed what he really thought of the people of Puerto Rico. Trump accused Cruz of “poor leadership” and also said too many people in Puerto Rico “want everything to be done for them.”

The citizens of Puerto Rico are recovering from a devastating hurricane which has wreaked havoc. People are barely surviving. Trump does not know what that is like – to survive on a minimal amount, to be looked down upon when you are at your weakest.

Our job as humans is to help others when they need it.

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