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Puerto Rico: One Year Later

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Puerto Rico: One Year Later

Alexis Brady

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This September marks one year since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. Although time has passed, the unforgiving natural disaster continues to have negative impacts on the residents on the island. Homes have been destroyed, thousands of lives have been lost, and people have been suffering every day since the hurricane struck. The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosello called Hurricane Maria “the worst natural disaster in our modern history.” This came after a study from George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health estimated  2,975 excess deaths in a six month period following the natural disaster. This number excluded anyone who died from natural causes or who would have died even if the hurricane hadn’t occured. After this study was released, President Trump took to twitter to express his disbelief of the updated estimated death toll, tweeting, “3,000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the island AFTER the storm hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths.” Many have criticized the President’s response to the tragedy, saying that he did not respond appropriately. Seven Bjone (11) commented that, “The way that he responded to this information was uncalled for, especially because he is in a position where he has the power to do good things.” Since those tweets have come out, several media outlets have expressed disdain for the President’s remarks, including Republic politicians that had previously supported him.

Despite doubts of the estimated death tolls, residents of Puerto Rico have continued to suffer from flood damage and frequent power outages. The power outages that have come after the hurricane hit have became the largest in United States history. Although power has been restored to the island as of June, many towns and communities continue to experience day long power outages. There is also severe damage to houses and buildings, with a lot of homes having a tarp serving as their roof. Puerto Rico is facing an estimated 94 billion dollars in damages, adding to the billions of debt the island had before Hurricane Maria. Since the hurricane struck, Puerto Rico had received limited help from the US government, with most of its aide coming from volunteer organizations. Tiffany Ticlo (11) says, “ I think it’s unfortunate that they are still struggling a year later. As a US territory, Puerto Rico should be receiving more assistance from the United States.” Although the federal government has helped relieve some debt from Puerto Rico after the hurricane, New York played a huge role in giving aid to the island. After the hurricane, New York sent a thousand personnel along with supplies like water, and solar lamps.

It will take a long time for Puerto Rico to fully recover after enduring this tragedy. One year has proven to not be enough time for residents and government officials to fix all the problems that Hurricane Maria left behind. Residents of the island will continue to struggle with poor living conditions and an economy burdened with billions of dollars of debt. Steven Hamming(11) says, “It will be very difficult for Puerto Rico to get back on its feet by itself. They’ll need a lot of assistance and support if they are going to improve at all.” While it is true that this will not be a quick recovery for the island, many have stepped up to support the cause. There are many organizations that are working to fix homes and guarantee that the island will be prepared for an event like this in the future.

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Puerto Rico: One Year Later