Puerto Rico Still Waits for Relief

Ben Fox and Danica Coto at the AP/Washington Post: 'Nothing, Nothing.' Aid Lags in Hurricane-Torn Puerto Rico.
Maribel Valentin Espino and her husband say they have not seen anyone from the Puerto Rican government, much less the Federal Emergency Management Agency, since the storm tore up the island Sept. 20, killing at least 16 people and leaving nearly all 3.4 million people in Puerto Rico without power and most without water.

"People say FEMA is going to help us," Valentin said Tuesday as she showed Associated Press journalists around the sodden wreckage of her home. "We're waiting."

Many others are also waiting for help from anyone from the federal or Puerto Rican government. But the scope of the devastation is so broad, and the relief effort so concentrated in San Juan, that many people from outside the capital say they have received little to no help.

...The same complaint echoed throughout the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa, the first town Maria hit as it barreled across the island with 155 mph winds.

"Nothing, nothing, nothing," said 58-year-old retiree Angel Luis Rodriguez. "I've lost everything, and no one has shown up to see if anyone lives here."
FEMA's presence is largely concentrated in San Juan, while people outside the capital are feeling abandoned. People who have memories of relief efforts following 1998's Hurricane Georges tell of a different experience then: "After Georges hit us, they responded quickly," said 64-year-old retiree Maria Rodriguez. "But now? Nothing. We need water and food."

They also need a president who gives a fuck. They need a government who will waive the Jones Act to expedite aid. They need a Congress who will not delay funding relief. They need a mainland of people who will demand that Puerto Rico's population, which is larger than 21 states, be treated with the same urgency as any other citizens of the United States.

I take up space in solidarity with my fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.

If you would like to donate to relief efforts, here, via Joan McCarter, is "an ActBlue vetted list of charities in Puerto Rico": Contribute Now to Support Victims of Hurricane Maria.

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