Puerto Ricans interviewed after hurricane disaster


This video says about itself:

2 October 2017

US President Donald Trump has been engaged in a war of words with the mayor of [San Juan in] Puerto Rico, who has accused him of neglecting the US territory.

Power is still down, goods are running low and some families remain separated nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit.

Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo followed two sisters on a journey to find their missing father.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Destroyed Puerto Rico still feels it is abandoned

Today, 12:31

Wilfredo Diaz-Ramirez has been sleeping in a tent near his house for two weeks. The 78-year-old veteran’s roof has been completely blown away by Hurricane Maria. Since then, he peers from his balcony to the road every day and waits for help in vain.

“I called the emergency number of the federal emergency service FEMA yesterday and waited for two and a half hours this time,” he says. “But still nothing.”

The house of Diaz-Ramirez, or what’s left, is in Canóvanas town. There is still no electricity and no water. A few gas stations and a single supermarket are open, but the basic needs are on ration. Everywhere people are in line. And cash is king. Everything has to be paid in cash, because electronic payment has completely stopped. So the first queue of the day is the one at the bank.

Carmen Torres Fernandez has been in that queue since 6:00 in the morning. She tries to keep her tears under control: “I’m very frustrated. I have not eaten for two days now. Without cash, you can not buy anything, neither cook, we have no food, no water, nothing at all.”

This is the sad picture in the region around the capital San Juan, where the situation is relatively better than in the more remote areas. Residents say that emergency relief has come too slowly. But according to President Trump, who will visit Puerto Rico later today, the federal government is doing “a great job” …

Harvey, Irma, Maria

Still, many observers question Trump’s position. They point out the big difference between how federal emergency services responded. After Hurricane Harvey in Texas, 31,000 people were released for help, with Hurricane Irma in Florida there were 40,000. After Hurricane Maria, just over 10,000 federal workers have been active in Puerto Rico. Even General Buchanan, appointed by Trump to lead the military on the island, mentions that number is too low.

For Wilfredo Diaz-Ramirez, the way the federal government is dealing with Puerto Rico is the umpteenth proof that this piece of the United States of America does not really matter to the people on the continent. “It feels like they’ve forgotten us,” he sighed. “We are nothing but second-class citizens.”

This video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Called Out: ‘You Don’t Give A S**t About Puerto Rico’

2 October 2017

Trump got called out to his face while dedicating a golf trophy to the victims of Hurricane Maria. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, the hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“President Donald Trump on Sunday dedicated a golf trophy to hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, and it didn’t go well.

As Trump spoke at Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City, New Jersey, someone in the crowd called out: “You don’t give a shit about Puerto Rico.”

Online, the reaction was about the same.”

Read more here.

By Rafael Azul:

Trump visits Puerto Rico as anger grows over government response

3 October 2017

Across the United States workers and middle-class people are organizing to send help to Puerto Rico, where hundreds of thousands are without electric power and face scarcities of food, medicine and water. The outpouring of support for residents of the hurricane-ravaged island contrasts sharply with the indifference of the Trump administration.

Facing popular anger over the slow response of the federal government, Trump is scheduled to visit Puerto Rico today, nearly two weeks after the devastating storm that has left 95 percent of the residents of the US territory without power and a still unknown number of fatalities. The president spent recent days firing off angry tweets from his luxury golf course in New Jersey denouncing Puerto Rican officials for complaining about the lack of aid.

According to Reuters the Puerto Rican government, which declared financial bankruptcy in May, is diverting what little money it has on hand for emergency response while it tries to secure aid from the federal government. Trump has made it clear the island will receive no relief from the $72 billion it owes to creditors, tweeting last week that the massive debt “owed to Wall Street and the banks, sadly, must be dealt with.”

While US government aid has been slow, ordinary workers and young people in the US have collected and shipped relief supplies at their own cost. CNN reports that among those that are organizing help are high school students, such as those at Comsewogue High School in the Suffolk County suburbs of New York City, where donations of water, cereal boxes and cans of food have piled up as volunteers try to arrange transportation to the island.

Many aid groups are using social media to reach out and organize collections and deliveries.

In New Orleans, the Cajun Airlift group, pilots and aviation enthusiasts who collected and delivered 25,000 pounds of supplies to Texas after Hurricane Harvey, are now focusing on Puerto Rico. On Monday, an airplane charted by Cajun Airlift reported on its Facebook page that its first plane had reached Puerto Rico loaded with medical and other supplies. The plane flew back evacuating 14 people. Cajun Airlift is also collaborating with #OperationBoricuaAirlift in transporting rescue supplies between Puerto Rican cities.

In Los Angeles, California #LA4PR was formed on September 20, the day Hurricane María hit Puerto Rico. It has enlisted the help of the local entertainment industry. “We have our hands tied in a lot of ways but we are not stopping,” said Ana Miró, a member of Los Angeles for Puerto Rico. The group already sent some donations on Delta and JetBlue relief flights and plans to send more aid in the coming weeks. “We plan to gather things and keep sending them,” Miró said. “We are not stopping for any reason.”

Truck drivers, firefighters, and construction workers from across the country are among those volunteering to help clear the logjam that has kept tons of supplies in warehouses, unable to reach those that need them.

Within the island, volunteers continue to provide whatever assistance they can. On Monday, over 600 volunteers were cleaning up the Rio Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico.

Every day that goes by brings in more offers of volunteers as well as material and financial help, in contrast to the Trump administration and the meager allotment of funds released by the Financial Oversight Board that has a stranglehold on Puerto Rico’s fiscal budget.

In addition to the $72 billion in debt owed to vulture investment funds and $50 billion in underfunded public pensions, the island’s public electric utility AEE is also being held accountable for its $9 billion debt. The utility, which is in danger of being liquidated at fire sale prices, was vulnerable to storm damage due to years of cost-cutting that resulted in the lack of maintenance and the layoff of thousands of linemen, who are now desperately needed for repairs.

Nearly two weeks after the island was hit by the strongest storm since 1928 things continue to deteriorate. In cities in the Puerto Rican interior, such as Lares and Utuado, drinking water, food and fuels are being rationed. Electricity has yet to be restored. New estimates predict it may take one year to restore power to mountain cities and towns. In Lares, a mudslide has affected the local cemetery, dragging graves downhill and opening some caskets.

In Utuado another mudslide descended on part of the city, burying several vehicles.

Pablo del Llano, reporting from Lares and Utuado for El País, describes how people stop him in the street, confusing him with government officials who have yet to show up. “Are you from FEMA?” asks a man on the street, “when will we get our lights back?”

Many roads in the Puerto Rican highlands are still impassable. Fifty-five percent of the population still lacks running water; service is intermittent for many others. Of the 150 diesel generators that the water authority requested from FEMA, only three have been delivered.

In coastal Salinas, del Llano spoke to Nydia Rosario, 51, with two daughters. Last Thursday, all they had left was a box of canned food and 24 bottles of water. They had run out of money, and the ATMs are not working. With no fans or mosquito repellent, Nydia worries that disease-carrying mosquitoes may bite her daughters. “This Christmas there will be no lights,” predicted Ms. Rosario.

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5 thoughts on “Puerto Ricans interviewed after hurricane disaster

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