Following Hurricane Maria, the island of Puerto Rico has been without basic life needs such as water, food, medical supplies, and electricity. Cell service to the island has been minimal, with all but a few cell towers left standing and functional after the storm.
None of the damage is insurmountable, but it all requires great gobs of support and assistance from off-island resources. PR is a United States territory and has 3.4 million U.S. citizens in residence.
Donald Trump has been less than helpful in providing support.
PBS NewsHour’s Monica Villamizar interviewed Department of Defense primary military liaison with FEMA, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, after he toured the island via helicopter. The interview was conducted in an aircraft hangar in Ceiba, without the benefit of internet, electricity, or cellular service.
Buchanan could not hide his shock at the overall conditions on the island:
Sometimes we don’t know what’s going to happen until the storm actually hits, and this is the worst I’ve ever seen.
Trump spent his weekend criticizing the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, from the luxury of his New Bedford, New Jersey golf resort. He accused her of “poor leadership” (something he is guilty of), of not doing enough to help her own people (as she waded through chest-deep sewage with a megaphone to help people), after she appeared on an interview with Anderson Cooper wearing a t-shirt that declared “WE ARE DYING HERE.”
Apparently, Trump and company want an actual body count. It isn’t enough for them that people are dying — they seem to want them already dead. But at least Buchanan seems to have a level head and realistic outlook on what can be done to help Puerto Rico.
Buchanan characterized some of the worst problems facing the island:
And it’s because of roads. The roads are not clear on the outside of the island, and we’re slowly working our way in. But we obviously need to get all the roads cleared so we can get supplies to people who desperately need them.
The Trump administration has been telling people on the island that if they want help from FEMA they need to register with FEMA — online — to start the process. The problem with that is that there is no internet. There is very little cell service. There is no electricity. So, realistically, what the Trump people are saying is that they can’t, or won’t, help PR at this time. Buchanan seems to have a different opinion, and for that we are thankful:
I’m not a Republican. I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a member of the blue party. I’m not a member of the blue party. I’m a soldier. And I’m here to help people. The people here need help and we’re going to give them all the help that we can.
Hopefully, after seeing the damage first-hand, Buchanan will start kicking some tails in Washington to start helping these U.S. citizens.
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