Issues, Regulation

The mainstream media is lying about Puerto Rico

8

Weeks after Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas and Hurricane Irma wrecked southern Florida, another hurricane, Maria, ravaged Puerto Rico as a Category 5 storm. Since its passing, this small American island has been forced to show resilience as infrastructure and communication challenges continue to pervert efforts. However, the strength of the people of Puerto Rico and efforts by the Trump Administration have made a difference, despite some of the media’s depiction, Puerto Rico with a population of 3.4 million is preparing for a recovery.

Image Credit: FEMA; Dave Gatley Public Domain

While currently, the storms death toll rests at 16, officials have been quick to remind the federal government that the local government is unaware of the true scope of the damage to lives. Out of nearly 70 hospitals on the island, less than 20 are even partially operational; meanwhile, a lack of electricity on the entire island has made cell phones obsolete. This has caused many hospitals to wait to announce lives lost until families can be contacted and records can be kept once again.

While this has caused many to argue that Puerto Rico is not receiving adequate assistance from the federal government, extensive relief efforts are already underway.

This week, President Trump temporarily lifted the Jones Act, a law which required goods shipped between points in the US to be carried by vessels built, owned, and (mostly) operated by Americans. The New York Time’s Niraj Chokshi explains, in 1920 during the law’s passage, this law expedited the creation of a national maritime industry and protected American control over water commerce; but for Puerto Rico during a natural disaster, it slowed the ability for resources to enter the island while ports in Florida and nearby countries were seeking American made ships and crews. President Trump’s temporary waiver of this law has allowed millions of emergency meals, medical supplies, and clean water to enter the territory, drastically improving recovery efforts.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been working closely with the Department of Defense (DoD) to both allow resources to enter the island and get these resources distributed to areas of rural Puerto Rico, unreachable by traditional police units.

Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) have called upon the Trump Administration to increase the military presence on the island to ensure logistical constraints, which have been preventing aid from reaching remote parts of the island, are overcome and aid is delivered.

The Administration has responded to the situation on the ground accordingly with an uptick in DoD assistance. The Department reported on Friday morning, “In Puerto Rico, DoD continues ongoing relief operations and deployment of additional response capacity, expanding airfield and seaport throughput and supporting Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements. The hospital ship USNS Comfort will depart its home port of Norfolk, Virginia, today, bound for Puerto Rico, and NorthCom is sourcing a Role 3 medical capability and additional medical support… The capability includes a self-sufficient deployable medical/surgical treatment facility, including inpatient care with 50 inpatient beds for up to 10 days.”

In addition, “Ten of 12 regional staging areas, including 12 Puerto Rico National Guard armories, are open, he said, supporting more than 100 distribution points for meals, water and other commodities. Eight airports are open in Puerto Rico and one remains closed, he said. Five of six FEMA-priority sea ports are open or open with restrictions, he added, and surveys of Ponce and Roosevelt Roads are ongoing. U.S. Transportation Command lifted a replacement generator for San Juan Combined Center/Radar Approach. When installed, the generator will enhance air traffic control capability and increase air traffic capacity.”

Puerto Rico’s greatest struggle, which continues to cause the death toll to rise and citizens to distress, is the lack of basic energy on the island.

The territory’s electric grid has been destroyed by the twin blows of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico officials say it will likely be four to six months before power is fully restored. Unfortunately, this was an expected problem.

The LA Times reports, “The island’s faltering electrical grid…already was struggling to keep the lights on after a history of poor maintenance, poorly trained staff, allegations of corruption and crushing debt. As recently as 2016, the island suffered a three-day, island-wide blackout as a result of a fire. A private energy consultant noted then that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority ‘appears to be running on fumes, and … desperately requires an infusion of capital — monetary, human and intellectual — to restore a functional utility.’ Puerto Ricans in early 2016 were suffering power outages at rates four to five times higher than average U.S. customers.”

This should serve as a much-needed warning to the rest of the United States. Our own national electric grid relies on archaic infrastructure and has moved away from resilient energy sources such as coal and nuclear energy. Luckily, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is working to open coal and nuclear power plants to build resilience in the U.S. electric grid, hopefully, to prevent this type of tragedy from occurring nationwide.

Puerto Rico’s energy grid was unprepared for the storm; now leaving the island without the ability to pump clean water, without cellular phone towers, without electricity in most hospitals, and in this sub-tropical climate — without air conditioning.

While the situation in Puerto Rico has clearly become catastrophic, it has not gone unaddressed. Federal efforts including military continue to work to bring essential resources to individuals across Puerto Rico. This situation reminds all Americans the importance of disaster preparedness, a message the Trump Administration has not taken lightly.

This is a guest post by Natalia Castro a contributing editor for Americans for Limited Government.
  • Run like a banana republic by dems has it’s consequences, all to evident now.

  • Robert

    The USA has 1000s of military that could be in the disaster areas in less than 24 hours and could have the stuff cleaned up in half the time including road rebuilding, but we are not going to do that because then private contractors would be denied the money which will be scammed in part by those in top places.
    I would bet the USA could put 3000 troops in Puerto Rico in about 3 days with there equipment and electric would be restored and roads rebuilt in about a week, maybe not up to new but workable until the rest could get done.
    Just needs foresight instead of looking at it politically to see who can get the credit for their efforts.
    HAVE A GOOD DAY.

    • Dane A Wyrick

      Why aren’t you there helping instead of sitting behind your computer ridiculing POTUS?

      • Robert

        Dane A Wyrick
        To start with I would bet they would not allow me to go there to help, I am 80+ years. I gave generously to the relief efforts.
        In my opinion like a lot of other Republicans Trump does a good enough job of ridiculing him self through his thoughtless comments. Trump is a business man not a politician, you can not run a country like a business, firing persons who do not agreeing with you. As a politician you can not go around degrading others you do not agree with, that is not the way to get any thing done in this country or in world affairs, it is all compromise, not demands.
        HAVE A GOOD DAY

        • Dane A Wyrick

          It’s all compromise and not demands is how we have gotten to be such a mess in this country in the first place and secondly I assure you that America is a business and should be treated as such.
          If we first build a strong foundation then our house will not fall like a stack of cards.
          You speak of politicians degrading people that don’t agree with them and the only one that comes to your mind is Trump. That’s pathetic. Wake up and take a good look at your own party and their behavior and tell me how they all behave towards their commander and chief,, and don’t tell me that Trump started it as I’m not in the mood for petty grade school banter.
          Trump is our president like it or not, show some respect and perhaps you may get some in return

          • Robert

            Dane A Wyrick
            I am glad you mentioned looking at my own party, I have been a Republican since 1959 and Trump is not my party and he is not a lot of other Republicans President. When trump shows respect maybe the rest of the party will show him some. If trump is so right then how come he got 44.7% of the votes and now has a 37% approval rating, seems like a lot of Republicans who voted for him are not in line with him even in Congress. The only reason most can see why trump won the election is because first the voting turn out was the lowest in 50 years and secondly the Democratic turnout was the lowest in 80 years, I am a firm believer if the Democrats had run any one except Clinton they would still be in the White House.
            Trump has done more to break up this country than anyone since Lincoln and anyone with any knowledge of History knows that.
            HAVE A GOOD DAY

          • Joe Brake

            Goobert: You are the only person who claims to have been a conservative Republican for over 50 years while also claiming that “European socialist democracies” have the best form of government in the world and praising every action of Obama, Hillary, and the rest of the Democrats. I hope you don’t find it offensive when I say that we don’t need any Republicans of your unique ideology in the party, so why don’t you do everyone a favor and join the party you vote for, because you certainly have never voted Republican? HAVE A NICE DAY!!

  • Dexter L. Wilson

    The military is obviously there. Saw the President arrive. He is speaking to the people. He is praising the Governor for his efforts and others. Where is there any failure on his part working to get the aid to the People?

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