The bright greens of Puerto Rico have turned into a murky brown from the devastating Hurricane Maria. On Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, Puerto Rico was struck with a category five hurricane leaving the island with little useable resources and no electricity.
English teacher Joanne Tomb had family living in Puerto Rico who flew into the states before the island was struck by Maria.
The hurricane itself caused 34 people to lose their lives, but that number only includes those have died directly due to the hurricane. Tomb states, “The death toll is much larger than the number shows. It does not include those who have died due to slow medical services and lack of food or clean water.” CNN interviewed over a hundred different funeral homes, all of which said there were much more than 34 deaths. According to their interviews, there could be as many as 500 deaths due to the aftermath of the storm.
Many homes, roads, and tourist attractions were destroyed as the islanders called for help, but many residents believe that they were not helped in a timely manner. Puerto Rico slowly rebuilt their electricity grid and power lines, but these efforts hit another wall. On Nov. 9, 2017, they suffered another major power outage, dropping Puerto Rico’s power capacity from 40 percent to 18. Tomb’s family’s property ‘’has its own generator, but it’s only on for part of the day and some days it’s not on at all.”
The destruction and restoration of Puerto Rico has become heavily politicized. The mayor of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, reached out to Donald Trump just a few weeks after the hurricane, asking for quicker, more efficient help. As Tomb explains it, “There are supplies just waiting to be taken out of San Juan to the rural areas. The government should make sure that the supplies are transported to the people that need them.”
The entertainment world has contributed to helping Puerto Rico by spreading the word and donating either money or bottles of water. Celebrities such as Chance the Rapper, Jennifer Aniston, and Jennifer Lopez all donated a piece of their fortune to help the cause.
Many organizations have contributed to the relief efforts of Puerto Rico despite the slow help from the government. The American Red Cross and World Vision have had hands-on help in Puerto Rico; donating to these support groups can help speed relief efforts up. Any and every amount can make a difference. For more information go to American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/ or World Vision www.worldvision.org/.