By Sibila Patsy
Three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, questions remain if the authorities are on the right way to speed the recovery of the island. The last of the tempests that ravaged through the region made landfall on Sep. 20, killing 45 people and causing a humanitarian crisis with a magnitude that continues to awe the U.S. and the rest of the world.
Despite that FEMA activated its operation in Puerto Rico ahead of the disastrous storm because of hurricane Irma and now has more than 6,000 personnel on ground working together with other agencies, much of the U.S. territory still remains without electricity, potable water, food, and access to internet or money in cash.
According to the Department of Defense, as of Oct. 12, only 55 percent of the population had cell phone service, only 87 percent of the supermarkets reopened and only 79 percent of gas stations resumed service.
The financial toll of hurricane Maria is calculated at $90 billion dollars as Gov. Ricardo Rossello of Puerto Rico announced before the media on Oct. 3. Authorities expected a full rebuild to be achieved in as much as six months. Gov. Rossello and Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of San Juan have been vocal numerous times before various media with their critics about Washington’s response to the crisis.
Some Roosevelt community members also saw a problem on how quick help is coming to the island. “The authorities are taking too slow with the help to Puerto Rico. I think the inland non-profit profits and community organizations should initiate more donations to go to the affected areas. Maybe they will succeed better and faster in the relief efforts,” said Ilyana Pinduisasa, a graduate in human resources.
President Trump visited Puerto Rico last Tues., 24 days after the impact. His rhetoric and way of showing support (he threw in paper towels to the crowd listening to his statement) were viewed as controversial by politicians, media analysts and by citizens.
Most critics were about the president’s saying, “I hate to tell you Puerto Rico, but you have thrown our budget a little out of whack.”
“I didn’t know how insensitive he would be, it was very embarrassing and surprising to me,” said Pinduisasa.
Dina Anarcisi, senior biology major, said, “There should be funds to help Puerto Ricans not to suffer because they are part of the United States as well.” Anarcisi said that this will be possible if “the government keeps taking full responsibility.”
Leticia Garcia, senior international studies major and vice president of International Student Association had specific recommendations to the Trump administration. Garcia said the president can propose to Congress to send more relief to Puerto Rico, including giving more money to FEMA, as well as the territory itself. “He can send more military resources to help with search and rescue operations. Instead he is blaming Puerto Rico for its financial problems, and is fixated on NFL protests and his twitter account,” said Garcia.
Despite the current critics towards the government, the Roosevelt community is positive that the authorities can still turn things around for Puerto Rico. They said that if they could do it in Florida with Irma or Texas with Harvey, they should be able to do it for Puerto Rico.