On Friday September 29, San Juan, Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz took to the major media in a desperate bid to alert the outside world that a humanitarian crisis on the scale of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina was unfolding in her country.
She described the “horror in the streets” of her destroyed city and went on air “begging” the American people and the rest of the world to “save us from dying”.
As a result of Hurricane Maria’s direct hit on the island on September 20, hospitals face weeks without power, the cities, including San Juan, could be without electricity for months, and the devastation in the island country/US territory could take years to repair.
According to CNN, Lt. Gen Jeffrey Buchanan, who was appointed to lead the military effort to render aid in Puerto Rico, stated that 10,000 personnel, including Air Force, Navy and Army medical facilities, planes and helicopters, were being brought to the disaster area, but that more were needed. Meanwhile, reports circulated on all major media that goods and supplies at the port could not be distributed to the suffering people because of a lack of drivers for the trucks needed to deliver them and the impassibility of many of the roads.
As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) bureaucracy was busy demanding that Puerto Ricans, who are American citizens, make requests and applications for assistance by Internet and phone in spite of the complete lack of phone or Internet service, US president Donald J. Trump went on one of his classic and clueless Twitter sprees,
“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.”
“Results of recovery efforts will speak much louder than complaints by San Juan Mayor. Doing everything we can to help great people of PR!”
“such poor leadership ability … not able to get their workers to help.”
“They want everything to be done for them,”
Meanwhile, Puerto Rican pop stars are chipping in to assist. Ramon Luis Ayala, better known as Daddy Yankee, donated $100,000 to the Food Bank of Puerto Rico which fed thousands of families in the village of Toa Baja, according to a CNN article. After Jennifer Lopez announced the donation of $1 million from her Las Vegas show to the humanitarian effort, Daddy Yankee responded by increasing his pledge of support to match it. And hip hop artist Pitbull sent his private jet to take cancer patients stranded at the local hospital to locations where they could receive life-saving treatments.
Certainly, by the time this is read, many more celebrities will have made public announcements of donations to the cause of Puerto Rican relief as well as private, anonymous ones, as the US government continues to make a public show of ineffectiveness and, some say, heartlessness in the statements the president continues to make about Mayor Cruz and any other officials who question or criticize his administration’s response.
In the meantime, territories such as the US Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe and other places devastated by Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria continue to struggle to recover from perhaps the most violent storm season in recorded history.