It’s been about two weeks since Hurricane Maria, the fifth-strongest storm to ever hit the United States, reached landfall in Puerto Rico, causing floods, landslides and destruction of thousands of homes.
Today, the island is pretty much uninhabitable, with millions of people being without electricity, and with limited access to gas, cash and running water. The government says there are at least 16 dead as a result of the storm.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló struck a fine line between calling for more emergency aid and not criticizing the U.S.’ response to the disaster.
“We need to do a lot more in order for us to get out of the emergency,” Rosselló said in a news conference in San Juan. “But the other thing that’s also true is that the administration has answered and has complied with our petitions in an expedited manner.”
The situation has become dire for Puerto Rico, which is home to 3.4 million Americans, and may be out of power for at least six months according to officials. If the conditions on the island didn’t improve fast, the governor said many of its residents could leave for good, or worst—die.
Only about a 11 percent island’s cell towers are working, and only about 5 percent of the electric grid is functionally, according to the Puerto Rico government.
In an update given over the weekend by Rosselló and FEMA officials, the situation in Puerto Rico is still critical. About 10,000 people remain in shelters. Only about nine of the island’s 69 hospitals have regular electricity, with another 42 hospitals using generators.
Rosselló and FEMA officials said all phone landlines are now working and that the government still is “in the process” of buying a few thousand crates of private-sector goods, including food meant for grocery stores.
The recovery strategy is a stark contrast from the days after Maria hit Puerto Rico. The Trump Administration has received sharp criticism from local officials, including, most prominently, from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.
“People are dying in this country,” Cruz said at a news conference on Sept. 29. “I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us, to save us from dying. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy.”
Cruz, whose heartfelt plea for assistance caught the world’s attention, including the President, who in typical Trump-fashion, proceeded to Twitter to attack her as an “ingrate” and suggested her criticism of the recovery is politically motivated.
Many viewed President Trump’s lack of urgency in Puerto Rico’s recovery effort as well as part of his ongoing agitation of Latinos. By comparison, Trump’s critics say, the President showed genuine compassion and urgency to the recovery efforts caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Hurricane Irma in Florida.
Rural parts of the island are experiencing even worst conditions, with many parts of Puerto Rico still under water.
View photos from Vox from the devastation in Puerto Rico.
To donate to Puerto Rico, it’s best to go the charity’s website, here are some organizations to consider: