Citizens on this hurricane-ravaged island are pleading for more help from federal agencies, saying there is a need for more aid in the form of police presence, sanitation workers, and more food and clean water.
And while there are more than 10,000 federal staff, including 700 FEMA workers, on the island in the days after landfall, both state leaders and citizens say the help is not enough. The power on the entire island has been out since the storm, and neighborhoods are in such disarray that they’re being described as apocalyptic.
Governor Ricardo Rossello is adamant that the island is facing a humanitarian crisis, and he is urging the White House and Capitol Hill to give his territory something tangible, in addition to more FEMA aid and workers, that can help them immediately. In his statement, he emphasized that Puerto Ricans are American citizens and that it is necessary for Congress to approve a commensurate aid package as a U.S. commonwealth.
According to Rossello, the problem lies in that FEMA and federal aid workers haven’t been able to reach centralized parts of Puerto Rico because of infrastructure problems. For example, there is a diesel ship docked in the bay of San Juan, but there is no way for the fuel to get to the ship, so its stranded until further notice.
Monique Casablanca has been stranded for the past week, and while she saw FEMA workers in her area the day after the storm, she hasn’t seen them since. In an interview with NBC News she expressed how she’s feeling:
“You feel like you’re forgotten. I’m in an area that’s flooded and there’s basically dead animals — cats, dogs, rats just floating around — the smell is crazy and I don’t see anyone here anywhere as of today or yesterday. We need more of everything. We need help”
In response to these claims that the government is ignoring the island, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained that there has been an unprecedented push through of billions of dollars in federal assistance to help out Puerto Rico. President Trump has also sent Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert and FEMA administrator Brock Long to assess the damage from the air. Trump will visit the island himself early next week, citing infrastructure concerns as to why he couldn’t visit earlier.
Additionally, FEMA reports that they have provided more than 1.5 million meals, 1.1 million liters of water, and about 12,000 emergency roofing kits since the hurricane hit. Roofing kits are especially beneficial since many Puerto Ricans have lost part of or all of their roof since their homes are not properly protected against hurricanes. For this reason, it is recommended to those who live in a hurricane-prone area to invest in a metal roof because it has a 140 mph wind rating.
So as of right now, the well-being of Puerto Rico is up in the air. Considering that 69% of homeowners believe a happy home is a place where a homeowner can feel safe and secure, there is a lot of work to be done to ensure the safety, health, and happiness of this tiny island.