Point Park Globe

Puerto Ricans still unable to go home

Written By Sienna Rodriguez-Truley, Copy Editor

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Nothing hits home like a hurricane, right? Excuse me for my premature jokes, and an apology in advance for my remarks and sarcasm pertaining to this issue.

As many U.S. Citizens may have already forgotten, the island of Puerto Rico was basically flattened by Hurricane Maria this past September. Many parts of the island are still without power, and some areas such as Caguas and Arecibo could be without power until late May, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

My family is from Selena (some are from Arecibo) but came to the mainland during the 1960s to the Bronx for more opportunities. Many returned to the island because leaving home was just too hard, and while most of my family was okay throughout the storm and experienced minor losses, that isn’t the case for everyone.

Alas, a great hero has come to save the day. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) not only handled the responsibility of disbursing food aid back to the Puerto Rican government prematurely, but they have also decided to tell nearly 200 displaced families they will no longer be providing hotel shelter for them.

Just a reminder, this isn’t a foreign aid mission for America to embark on. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, not some child to be pushed off to the side and ignored. The decisions the U.S.  government makes can affect lives for better or worse.

These families have to decide whether or not to leave their home for good and come to the mainland to start over or return to the torn island where there are still sections in the dark and residents have to boil their water in order to drink it safely. This decision isn’t something that can be resolved overnight, so we should stop expecting for them to.

The economy in Puerto Rico was nowhere near great and is even worse off now after the storm. The costs of repairs and reform are too much for the Puerto Rican government to handle alone. Yet again, this is where the U.S. shouldn’t hesitate to lend them a hand. Instead, they’ve been dancing around this issue for quite some time, as usual.

The U.S. is too talented in handling domestic matters. Yes, as previously mentioned, Puerto Rico is a domestic matter; there’s no way these families being supported by FEMA are able to find stability and normality in a rushed period of time after Maria.

According to The New York Times, FEMA initiated a contract with a one-woman company to provide 30 million meals for Puerto Ricans. Meanwhile, she has had zero experience with disaster relief in this capacity and only delivered 50,000 of those meals to Puerto Ricans.

The contract with this woman was terminated and FEMA claims no one had to miss a single meal; even if that is the case, there still should have been alternatives in place for a situation like this. Or, and this is only optional, they can actually hire someone with proper experience to handle a job that affects 3.4 million lives.

The temporary housing program FEMA is providing is constantly moving. New families are constantly being added to seek disaster relief and leave accordingly once they have a solid plan to relocate or go back home.

Things for Puerto Ricans will never be the same. And as the president said, things may be bad, but it can’t be as bad as Katrina, right? It’s not like a hurricane didn’t totally rip up the island to pieces.

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