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Puerto Rico’s Fight for Hurricane Relief and What We Can Do About It


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Puerto Rico is currently in a volatile state of unrelenting damage and neglect, as the territory struggles to recover from recent Hurricanes Fiona and Ian, which have ravaged the infrastructure and livelihoods of Puerto Ricans living below the poverty line. To this day, even five years after the catastrophic hurricane Maria (2017), many Puerto Ricans still feel the effects and are fighting for basic necessities such as power or safe running water, which have been left at a stalemate due to excessive damages and discriminatory policies.


The damages caused by hurricanes Fiona and Ian have left over 20 percent of Puerto Rican customers without power. Even in areas with power, it is unstable (Gonzales et. al 2022). In addition to the widespread power outage, water outages partly due to the lack of electricity continue to plague residents (Gonzales et. al 2022). Most concerningly, hospitals operating on backup generators because of unsteady power are running out of diesel, limiting medical emergencies from being properly addressed (Gonzales et. al 2022).


These concerns are weighing heavily on those below the poverty line, which includes roughly 43 percent of Puerto Rico’s general population. This shockingly high percentage of individuals living under the poverty line is more than three times the United States average, and this figure is particularly concerning given that Puerto Rico is a United States territory and is under U.S. jurisdiction. In this prolonged time of desperation, which has lasted years,

and weighed heavily on a large portion of Puerto Rico’s population, executive action by the United States government must be called into action.


The United States is currently at the center of a climate crisis, dealing with the devastating environmental effects of Hurricane Ian on mainland Florida, and experiencing a legislative divide regarding this summer’s Supreme court ruling which effectively limited the power of the EPA. While acknowledged and monetarily compensated by the Biden administration, the crisis in Puerto Rico should also be at the forefront of mainstream attention in the mainland United States.


The best approaches to raising international awareness of these inhospitable conditions many Puerto Ricans are currently facing would be to lift the voices of individuals affected by the aftermath of Ian, and to advocate for a widespread response from both national and international government institutions.


Lifting the voices of affected Puerto Ricans means directly shedding light on the inhospitable conditions created by September’s hurricanes. These voices could be shared through independent media coverage interviewing individuals or their relatives, or shared through the direct quotations and demands stated by elected officials in Puerto Rico calling for executive action. We as concerned citizens can advocate for and call upon government officials to address the disastrous situation in Puerto Rico by word of mouth, or through endorsing or supporting the charitable actions of nonprofits working to address the situation and its lingering aftermath. It will take a lot of effort to support rehabilitating Puerto Rico, but these efforts as advocates and allies will ultimately work to change lives and support a brighter future.

 

References


Gonzales, G. 29 September 2022. As Ian batters Florida, Puerto Ricans fear being forgotten. Politico. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from,

https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/29/as-ian-batters-florida-puerto-ricans-fear-being-forgotten-00059377

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