By: Hallie Lauer | Layout Editor
When Ivan hit, the government responded. When Katrina hit, the government responded. When Matthew, Harvey and Irma hit, the government sent their resources to help those in trouble. When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the executive branch was abnormally quiet in a time when it would have been appropriate to use its social media platform.
Puerto Rico, which is an American territory, has been largely without power for almost a week. The category 4 hurricane knocked out all the power lines around the island, power lines which the island’s government doesn’t have the money to replace. The communication in Puerto Rico is cut off. With the risk of a dam crumbling, Puerto Rican officials had to walk from house-to-house to warn nearby citizens to evacuate. According to a report done by CNN, hospitals are running on generators and have no idea how long they are going to last, none have any running water and are running low on other supplies – putting even more lives in danger.
Aside from the lack of power, all of Puerto Rico’s agriculture has been wiped out, meaning many people may also face starvation. The New York Times reported that the island has lost $780 million in agricultural revenue. The island was already in an extended economic crisis that is only being worsened by the storm.
So why isn’t the United States doing anything to help? In 1998, the United States came to the aid of Puerto Rico when it was struck by a Category 3 hurricane. The United States Army Corps of Engineers donated one million pounds of ice and water to the island and provided teams to help clear the debris. For Hurricane Maria, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that Congress is working with the presidential administration to “ensure necessary resources get to the U.S. territory,” but the earliest date that has been mentioned for those resources to be put together is the first or second week of October. The U.S. Navy has also said that they will deploy a medical facility, but it is not set to deploy for another 5 to 9 days.
That is too late.
People are going to die, not from the storm, but from starvation, dwindling medical supplies and a lack of clean drinking water. This is not a political discussion, it is a humanitarian one. While the President of the United States is busy tweeting about what professional football players are doing, people are fighting to rebuild even a fraction of what they once had.
That is unacceptable. These are people in need. They don’t need a visit from President Trump (which he has said he will do, but with no date set) they need water, blankets and help.
Puerto Rico is getting minimal aide, and it is not coming from the United States. These are American citizens and when this happened in Florida and Texas, the government was quick to send resources to help those people get back on their feet. But for some reason, that same desire to help people in need is gone.This shouldn’t even be a question of whether or not they are American citizens. We should be willing to offer our help to any country in need. So maybe instead of tweeting to NFL and NBA players, the president could call upon reservists or stop deploying troops to Afghanistan for a bit, and send them to a place where they will be welcomed and actually able to make a difference. If we want to continue to call ourselves the greatest nation in the world, we need to do better.
If you want to do better, you can donate money to help Puerto Rico to the following links:
The Duquesne Psychology Clinic will also have a meeting on Thursday Sept. 28 at 5:30 p.m in English and October 4 at 5:30 p.m in Spanish for anyone who is experiencing grief or distress at these events. Both sessions will be held in Rockwell Hall 227.