Puerto Rico needs help, but San Juan's mayor isn't helping [Letter]
Oct 04, 2017 | 12:50 PM
Having spent time in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and traveled around the island, I can understand why the island has suffered terribly in the wake of hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico is the poster child for poor construction methods, lack building codes, shoddy workmanship, and corrupt government officials who did not enforce infrastructure improvements on the island for the last seventy years. In short, Puerto Rico was a disaster waiting to happen.
Since the majority of Puerto Rico's island population lives on its coastline, they received the brunt of Maria's 180 mph plus winds that literally blew off the flimsy roofs of homes, knocked down 16,000 miles of poorly anchored and supported power lines, flooded all the low lying areas, washed out dozens of bridges critical to road transportation, and crippled the airport and its air traffic control center making air plane operations next to impossible.
These calamities on top of no clean water, little food, no sanitation, no medical facility, and no basic human needs on an island far away from immediate outside support spells misery. Fortunately, so far, less than 20 people have died with this historic storm.
Help could only come from the U.S. mainland. The governor of the island has praised President Trump's response and his quick reaction to send help to the island. San Juan's liberal mayor, Carmen Cruz, made statements with an inappropriate position claiming help was not arriving fast enough or in insufficient amount to keep people from "dying." She apparently was clueless to the actual facts of assistance.
Cruz has not attended the San Juan located FEMA coordinators meetings critical to understanding the logistical support and issues of distribution. She has apparently ignored the seven thousand U.S. FEMA and U.S. military already on the island bringing in initial supplies. She ignored the USS Kearsarge aircraft carrier bringing essential water and food by helicopter to areas unreachable by road. She ignored the Georgia Air National Guard flying dangerous landing missions to a blacked out airport bringing tons of essential supplies. She ignored the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers making every effort to restore power, water, roads and critical infrastructure to Puerto Rico. She ignored the fact that correcting decades of the island's third world attitude toward infrastructure improvements reflects the government's endemic corruption and six billion dollar debt the island cannot pay.
These things are not the fault of any U.S. President, they belong to Puerto Rico. Anyone trying to bring assistance to an island with Puerto Rico's devastation will know the immense logistical issues. Puerto Rico is receiving enormous support from U.S. agencies, our military, public and private organizations and individual assistance.
Fixing Puerto Rico will take a long time, perhaps years. Mayor Cruz needs a reality check and stop making political theater while standing in front of tons of pallets loaded with can goods delivered by FEMA. The hurricane did enough damage without the Mayor doing more.