( ENSPIRE News ) The Resilience of Puerto Rico Continues
ENSPIRE Contributor: Emmanuel Perilla
Puerto Rico is still battling to get back to normalcy despite extreme delays in the recovery effort. After more than four months of being without electricity, students and teachers at a local elementary school celebrated at its return. You can see all their joy in the school’s Facebook post here.
Hurricane Maria devastated the small U.S. territory in late September and there are still many people on the island who don’t have access to proper resources. According to Vox, “The single biggest problem facing Puerto Rico is still the lack of power. Gov. Ricardo Rosello promised that 95 percent of the island would have power by now and only 65 percent does. More than a third of the small Caribbean island still has no power and since Puerto Rico’s government is very poor, Puerto Ricans must rely on assistance from the U.S. government. This assistance has been more limited than originally expected.”
It was originally estimated that the entire island would have power by December 15th, but this date has been pushed back to the end of May. The blackout isn’t the only thing bringing complications to Puerto Ricans. In some parts of the island, people don’t have access to safe drinking water. Quartz states, “The share of Puerto Ricans with potable water surpassed 85 percent on Nov. 8 for the first time since hurricane Maria hit the island seven weeks previously. But in some areas, most people still don’t have running water, and many are still drinking bottled water or using filters or chlorine tablets to disinfect the water from the faucets. In the days after Maria, health experts warned about waterborne diseases and the island’s own health officials instructed Puerto Ricans to drink bottled water or to boil it. During a trip to the island at the end of October, locals repeatedly told me to use bottled water even for tooth-brushing.”
Conditions like these are motivating some Puerto Ricans to leave their island home and move to the mainland for more stability. Quartz states, “Last week Jose Luis Robles, a 25-year-old small auto shop owner from Central Puerto Rico, boarded a plane headed to Pennsylvania. “Today he has a job at a warehouse in Harrisburg and plans to send for his wife and two-year-old daughter by the end of the year. Robles is one of 100,000 Puerto Ricans who have left the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.” With people leaving Puerto Rico to work elsewhere it is slowing up the progress of its economy. “The pros are too many compared to the cons,” said Robles, whose home was rendered uninhabitable by the hurricane.
One thing remains clear, it is 2018 and Puerto Ricans need serious assistance. The small island is experiencing a public health crisis that will not come to an end if more assistance isn’t provided. The more aid is provided, the quicker the island can recover from this disaster and the livelihoods of the Puerto Rican people can be restored. If you’re interested in donating money to Puerto Rico, Unidos Por Puerto Rico is an initiative created by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rossello, that provides aid to those affected by the hurricane. If you’re interested in providing supplies, Casa Pueblo is a non-profit community organization that distributes solar lanterns across the island. You can purchase a solar lantern on the website.
Sources: Vox, Getty Images