President Donald Trump has declared his administration is responding to the calamity and destruction caused by hurricane Maria, leveling the island of Puerto Rico.
However, the wide gap between his rhetoric and reports from government officials there about catastrophic conditions on the island raises concerns about the effectiveness of support efforts, not just for Puerto Rico, but all of the Caribbean islands that were hit hard by hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Governments in several of these countries are starting to rebuild infrastructures, houses and communities with various agencies assistance on the ground support after Irma and Maria left widespread damage.
In the U.S. Virgin Islands, so many residents of the islands are still looking for word of friends or family members. So many that the St. Thomas-based Virgin Islands Daily News has begun publishing a list of specific inquiries.
On the island of Dominica, at least 27 people were killed by Maria, according to the chief of police. And 27 others remain missing, according to published reports
In Cuba, as part of the national recovery plan with the Government, the United Nations is supporting the recovery of over 215,000 houses severely damaged by Hurricane Irma. The UN-wide recovery plan was presented this week in Havana.
The Government of Barbuda has reported over 90 percent of buildings were destroyed, including all government premises. Citizens are reportedly living in neighboring Antigua until they can resume their lives back in Barbuda.
Last year, YouGov found only 43 percent of Americans knew Puerto Ricans were U.S. citizens. A poll conducted after Maria by Morning Consult showed that number may be up, but only slightly: Just 54 percent of Americans knew Puerto Ricans were U.S. citizens. Other polls suggest the more U.S. citizens realize Puerto Ricans were Americans the more they favored granting the island residents aid.
But here’s the wake up call: Aside from Puerto Rico, many of these countries are where a great number of Americans travel and spend their money, whether for vacation or business trips. Now is not the time for the American government and its people to turn a blind eye to our global neighbors south of us.
Help should not be given based on a country’s political status with the United States. It should be given because it’s the humanitarian thing to do in helping our fellow brothers and sisters in their time of crisis.
Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune