After Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the island of Puerto Rico is in shambles. To say that almost everywhere one looks, it looks like a bomb went off would be an understatement. The devastation is massive.
I do not mean this to diminish the damage and suffering incurred by parts of Texas and Louisiana, and almost the entirety of Florida, after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The loss and cost of rebuilding in all of those states will be immense and take several years. However, Puerto Rico is an island that was already not up to the standards of infrastructure as those in the U.S. mainland, thus already operating from a deficit before Hurricane Irma hit, let alone the follow-up, and far more severe, punch of Hurricane Maria shortly afterward. Reports of devastation and total destruction have become commonplace.
Yesterday, one of my Facebook friends shared a post from someone on the ground, in the thick of things in the hurricanes' aftermath. The original post came from someone in a town called Trujillo Alto, roughly thirteen miles (twenty-one kilometers) southwest of San Juan. It describes, first-hand, the devastation the author has seen:
"I am here right now with a sip from a cell tower, which will probably have its diesel
stolen promptly and will fade out. 3 died today from lack of dialysis in a hospital -
no power for six days, no diesel for the emergency generators, no diesel for the diesel
trucks to take the diesel. I spent 12 hours today to get fuel to go work and the fuel
tanker never arrived to the station. Over 3,000 cadavers were unearthed naturally by
flooding in Lares and now float on the township, creating pestilence problems. There
are over 1,200 containers with aid and supplies (food, everything for we are an island)
that cannot be distributed for truckers don't have diesel for the trucks. I have seen a
grand total of 2 National Guard trucks going from Ponce up Cayey since the hurricane.
That's all the US military presence I've seen firsthand. 99% of everything has been
done by us, manually. Police have no radio, no comms, no phones, no gas to move
their cars. 99% of PR has no electricity, and 75% has no running water. Over 90%
of cell phone service is down. I'm living with a knife-edge machete alongside me,
because of the looting and crime.
That's the current [situation] in a nutshell, no BS."
President Trump's response, both verbal/posted and putting relief efforts in motion, has been disgraceful. Terms such as unpresidential, inhumane, out of touch, and disgraceful are on point. First, listen to this interview with the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, where the ports that hold vital relief supplies are located, Carmen Yulin Cruz, who is in the thick of things.
Not only was Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke's statement two days ago out of touch, although she changed her tune only after heading down to Puerto Rico yesterday, President Trump's own comments have been nothing short of disgusting.
From five days ago, after a long silence ...
... and from just today ...
What the hell kind of a response is that?! Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and has been for decades, so its residents are U.S. citizens. While the response had been slow to some degree after Hurricane Harvey in Texas and after Hurricane Irma in Florida, the President has not shown this contempt to those states. Why? Last I checked, a U.S. citizen is a U.S. citizen.
Adding insult to injury, the remainder of the last tweet just above reads:
Has he blamed the victims for not moving relief efforts along more? Check. (Great, blame the victims.) Has he blamed the fake news for disparaging the relief efforts? Check. (Broken record.) Has he has yammered on about how great the relief effort has been going? Check. (Repetition and superlatives are not proof.)
President Trump accused San Juan Mayor Cruz of poor leadership. In psychology, that is known as "projection".