Puerto Rico: After the Storm

The recent devastation in Puerto Rico has left the territory in need of relief. It endured Hurricanes Maria and Irma from late August to early October. Hurricane Maria will cost Puerto Rico as much as $95 billion. The U.S. has pledged to provide aid. The House of Representatives passed Puerto Rico relief Oct. 12 giving $36.5 billion with more on the way. The Senate will need to approve it prior to its implementation.

Since the weeks following Hurricane Maria 85 percent of Puerto Ricans do not have electricity while 3.4 million citizens are without running water. The Jones Act was suspended to provide aid to Puerto Rico. Congress enacted this act in 1920 in response to the threat of German U-boats during World War I. This Act meant to protect U.S. merchant ships has hindered aid to Puerto Rico as it must pay a tax for every U.S. vessel. The Act doubled the price of aid to the country, hindering relief efforts.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided over $53 million in home repairs and dental, medical and funeral expenses. FEMA has pledged additional aid in the near future, and the U.S. Senate should pass aid relief this week to further help the U.S. Territory.

The Puerto Rican government is attempting to stabilize the territory and its economy in the aftermath. Its failing economy and increased migration will make recovery a challenge. Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rosselló hopes that 95 percent of power will be restored by Dec. 15, 2017. The government expects that 30 percent of power will be working by the end of October. They expect to have 50 percent electricity by Nov. 15, 2017 and 80 percent by Dec. 1, 2017.

President Trump tweeted Oct. 12  2017 “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”

He further stated that aid would be halted for Puerto Rico and that the country would have to pay back the money that the U.S. provides. Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi have criticized his position and stated that they will continue to provide aid to Puerto Rico.

Overall aid to Puerto Rico has been a slow process. Trump criticized sending aid and FEMA workers but he praised relief efforts in Houston and tweeted his support for continued Houston relief efforts.

Nevertheless, Puerto Rico has praised FEMA and the U.S. Department of Defense for their efforts. The U.S. government sent aid to Puerto Rico despite partisan infighting in Congress. The organizations above have pledged to provide further aid to restore power and clean water to the country.

Photo courtesy of Reuters.

Dylan Jones

Dylan is a senior history and political science major. He is a staff writer for the Hilltop Monitor as well as Scholastic Chair for Lambda Chi Alpha at William Jewell, a member of Christian Student Ministries and a member of Phi Alpha Theta and Pi Sigma Alpha academic honor societies.

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