by Gabriela Mendez & Tatiana Torres
Sept. 16 was the one year mark of the destruction in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico is still missing the resources they need to be able to get completely back on their feet.
A few months after Hurricane Maria struck the island, the governor of Puerto Rico stated the death toll due to the hurricane was 64. It was not until Aug. 14, 2018, with much pressure from the people of Puerto Rico and the media, that the actual death count was brought to light by a study paid for by the Puerto Rican government. The researchers were students from George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health and the University of Puerto Rico who stated that the actual death toll is 2,975.
Alexandra Ortiz, freshman nursing major from Puerto Rico, knew that the death toll had risen but was unaware of the specific number. She was shocked and saddened to discover how by how much it had risen.
“We are far from being a hundred percent functioning and that Puerto Rico’s government is trying to sugar coat it to the media so it won’t seem that bad,” said Ortiz.
President Trump, stated on Twitter, “3,000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths….” He added, “This was done by the democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico….”
These tweets angered many residents and politicians, who expressed their opinions about the statements President Trump made.
“He feels attacked and put upon. When he’s attacked, he pushes back and feels like this story is politically motivated,” said Senator Lindsey Graham in a speech he gave to CNN on Sept. 7.
Many believe that the reason Trump feels attacked is due to the Department of Homeland Security “FY 2018 Transfer and Reprogramming Notifications” documents that brought to light the $10 million which were supposed to be funding for FEMA, but instead were transferred for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
News outlets such as CNN, NBCNY, and CBS have reported that after eleven months the entire island has regained power. This is the official stance of the Puerto Rican government and Puerto Rico’s power authority (AEE).
When AEE tweeted on Aug. 14 the news about helping their last client, many residents were shocked because this was not the case, with some parts of the island are still struggling to regain their power.
Due to the confusion, AEE stated that those who have yet to regain power will be given solar panels or will remain without power.
When the governor declared bankruptcy in early May, many residents saw this as an inability to get funds for the solar panels.
“Finally there is electricity in all the island,” Lara Perez, sophomore allied health major from Puerto Rico, said.
With the news not being 100 percent factual, Puerto Rico is still struggling. There are various organizations that are dedicated to helping the people who are in need.
Non-profit organization, “Puerto Rico Renace Inc.” has formed as a result of the destruction from Maria. Their goal is to provide much needed supplies and aid to Puerto Rican families in hard-hit areas all over the island.
“Friends of Puerto Rico” is another non-profit organization that helps with the reconstruction of the island. To donate, go to their webpage friendsofpuertorico.org.