Blue Community Program Coastal Sustainability Best Practices

Puerto Rico: Aftermath: Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria & Looking Ahead for What’s to Come

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     As Hurricane Maria approached the island, Puerto Ricans prepared for the worst storm of the century and managed to overcome its torrential winds and rain with whatever resources they could find. Hurricane Maria impacted Puerto Rico and its people in ways that it left uncertainty for the island beyond measure. With no escape route, people were unable to flee the storm and rather hope for the best of what’s to come. However, with all of the precautionary measures possibly taken, Maria swept the island and took everything along her path.

     Hurricane Maria made landfall on September 20 as a category 4 storm with winds of approximately 155mph (“Hurricane Maria Hits Puerto Rico as Category 4 Storm” n.d). The effects were already taking a toll by decimating rooftops and breaking windows, as well as leaving around 900,000 people without power. It all lasted for around 24 hours. The calm after the storm wasn’t so calm after all. People were left with nothing, even their own family members. Hurricane Maria’s death toll after the storm rose to 51, according to the Department of Public Safety, but that number was more likely to increase to the 100’s (Levenson, 2017). Despite the agonizing pain that people were starting to suffer, Puerto Rico was left with a disaster that justified to be a humanitarian crisis. Right after the storm passed, about 1 million people had no power and no source for potable water. Everything was in complete isolation, with no communication and no service from government authorities on the way. People’s only hope was to find what they could or flee from the scene, which was rather a struggle since the airport was closed prior to the hurricane. Electrical outages were seen everywhere, crops and vegetation for the region were either severely damaged or completely lost, roads were completely damaged and inaccessible for transportation means, and flooding along coastland areas were taking a havoc for communities in that area. Disconnected by the disaster, people all over the U.S. territory struggle to make a living. For example, people that are relying on generators are continuously waiting in lines to get fuel for about 6-8 hours. To make matters worse, the Guajataca Dam failed to operate and progressively started to agonize communities around the dam with fears of having potential flash floods (Talmazan & Gutierrez, 2017). This all adds to a detrimental mess and it is predicted that the island will take months till it is fully supportive of itself.

     In addition, many lost hope and therefore by simply moving out of the island would fulfill their improvement in their lifestyle instead of staying in Puerto Rico. One native Puerto Rican citizen, Demaris Rosado-Alverado, who dealt with the struggles and percussions associated to Maria was interviewed to tell about the recent events and what it was like for her and people. People were on a waiting list of approximately 20,000 at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport to flee and start a new life. The ones who were fortunate to make it to Florida or other nearby states had stories to tell about their experience. Demaris was one of them. She said that she left permanently because It was hard to live in an island whose future economy is devastated and when she has a family member of her own wit health issues, it is better to just move. She said there is no jobs, a high crime rate, no police, no jails and nothing was ever the same (Rosado-Alverado, 2017).

     The chaos prevailed for the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, to assist in this humanitarian crisis and reach out to the White House and the President for auxiliary means to the island. The response from the federal government they had been waiting for left the island with frustration and desperation. It was not something the people and the governor anticipated since the attentiveness for Hurricane Harvey and Irma were more progressively in terms of aid and leadership through organizations like FEMA and National Guard Services. Even when president Donald Trump made its visit to the island, he kept reassuring them of the debt that the island is facing instead of having words of hope and confidence. Furthermore, the coordination varied distinctly due to the fact that Puerto Rico sits farther away than the states in which the states are accessible to a closer distance than Puerto Rico which is harder to reach since the only way is by boat or airplane. Also, many of the communities that were impacted the most are isolated throughout the region and sometimes that makes it harder to get to. However, when Demaris was interviewed the question about how the government was handling support to aid in recovery efforts, she said that there was a lack of poor management regarding logistics, organizations, affiliations with government agencies, etc. She also stated that there was no distribution of goods and services and no inventory of what cities have gotten what (Rosado-Alverado, 2017).

     The aftermath will lead to unprecedented concerns for the island. With a major challenge that Puerto Rico is suffering from, bankruptcy, there is uncertainty on how all these problems are going to be handled. Hurricane Maria has worsened the economic crisis and has had an impact that has touched all levels of society. Nonetheless, communities still gather together to support one another to comfort and give strength to one another. Through resilience and adaptive capacity means, they are able to start a new form of living in the island. It is also a chance of opportunities for the island to get back up on its feet and start to develop new incentives to improve the economy, infrastructure, and policies. From this experience, the people and government authorities can implement better procedures in dealing with storms like this and have better initiatives that progress the economy of the island to a better start.

 

 

 

References

Hurricane Maria Hits Puerto Rico as Category 4 Storm. (2017, September 20). Retrieved November 28, 2017, from http://time.com/4949393/hurricane-maria-category-4-puerto-rico-landfall/

Levenson, E. (2017, October 25). Water-borne infections push Puerto Rico death toll higher. Retrieved November 28, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/25/health/puerto-rico-death-toll/index.html

Rosado-Alverado, D. (2017, November 2). Puerto Rico. (R. Rosinski-Kennell, Interviewer)

Talmazan, Y., & Gutierrez, G. (2017, September 25). Puerto Rico's Guajataca Dam Still a Danger After Hurricane Maria. Retrieved November 28, 2017, from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/puerto-rico-s-guajataca-dam-still-danger-after-hurricane-maria-n804411

 

 

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Citation

Broome, A. (2017). Puerto Rico: Aftermath: Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria & Looking Ahead for What’s to Come. Retrieved from http://www.bluecommunity.info/view/article/5a1e15e30cf26bc6ab8f1717

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