Recent interview with FEMA head repeated the warning that we must be prepared to fend for ourselves in the immediate wake of a disaster. Local and fedral officials will do all they can to help but we are responsible for ourselves and our familys. Be prepared for anything. Read on below.
A month after Hurricane Mariabattered this mountainous stretch of central Puerto Rico, recovery remained elusive along Highway 152, where 82-year-old Carmen Diaz Lopez lives alone in a home that’s one landslide away from plummeting into the muddy creek below.
Without electricity, and without family members to care for her, she’s become dependent on the companionship of a few neighbors who stop by periodically. But a collapsed bridge has made it challenging to even communicate with her friend across the creek, so she’s lived for the most part in solitude, passing the electricity-less days singing “Ave Maria” and classic Los Panchos songs to herself, lighting candles each night so she can find the bathroom.
“I just ask the Lord to take care of me, because he’s the only one I have,” Diaz Lopez said Wednesday.
Public Domain from pixabay
Diaz Lopez and her neighbors along Kilometer 5 of this badly hit mountain road in Barranquitas municipality are among the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans still at risk as the recovery effort heads into its fifth week. Pipe water returned here in a trickle a few days ago, and the collapsed earth that blocked the road and sent muck into homes has been half-way cleared. But a phone signal is still non-existent, and residents are far from any semblance of sustainable self-sufficiency.
The situation threatens to undermine the economic and fiscal future of the island, and is already fueling a flood of Puerto Ricansleaving for the mainland. At this stage in the recovery from the Category 4 storm, many find the current state of the U.S. commonwealth — home to some 3.4 million American citizens — unthinkable.
“I just haven’t seen a situation where people don’t have access to basic services for so long,” said Martha Thompson, the Puerto Rico response coordinator for the Boston-based charity Oxfam Americas who also worked on the response to Hurricane Katrina.
Meeting at the White House with the commonwealth’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, PresidentDonald Trump said Thursday that his administration’s response to Maria deserves a perfect “10” rating. He also drew attention to the fiscal mess in Puerto Rico that predated the hurricane, suggesting he wants repayment of any reconstruction loans to take precedence over the island’s existing $74 billion debt that pushed it into bankruptcy.
Only tenuous, provisional measures seem to be preventing a much greater humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. A government task force has restored electricity to many hospitals and healthcare facilities, but others are sustained by diesel generators that occasionally fail. (APR Energy Chairman John Campion, whose company rents the units for natural disasters, said in an interview that such generators typically have a life span of 500 hours, and the crisis has already lasted longer than that.)
Recent interview with Brock Long repeated the oft heard warning that we must be prepared to fend for ourselves in the immediate wake of a disaster. Local and fedral officials will do all they can to help but we are responsible for ourselves and our familys. Be prepared for anything and you and your family will prosper.