More alarmist headlines are calling this a "Potential American Chernobyl". I am hoping that will turn out to be grossly exaggerated, but then, Rick Perry is the relevant agency head here.
EDIT: For now it seems like water table contamination is the most serious potential problem.
- They have no power and probably won't for months
- A huge amount of housing has been destroyed (some estimates are as high as 40% of all the housing on the island)
- Pretty much the entire harvest has been destroyed
- They're still having record temperatures
- The governor's estimate is that the island has been set back at least a generation
- Also they pretty much declared bankruptcy earlier this year
Some relief supplies are already on the way, but it's unclear how much exactly.
There's also conflicting reports about the Federal response. Some news articles are saying that the White House is slow-rolling things, and will only push for action in Congress in the first or second week of October. Others are saying that action will be initiated by congress and a response is being planned already.
Mongrel wrote:I wonder if Trump realizes that Puerto Ricans have citizenship and can simply and legally move to a mainland state if it turns out that Puerto Rico will be uninhabitable for a few years.
And that the state will most likely be Florida.
So, as I mentioned, Puerto Rico basically declared bankruptcy earlier this year. Part of the problem is that increasing numbers of Puerto Ricans are ALREADY emigrating to the continental states. At the beginning of the 200's the Population peaked at a little over 4 million. At the beginning of 2007, it was under 3.5 million (for reference, that's just under the median for all US states). That's crazy depopulation - well over 10% and maybe more than 15% gone in just over a decade.
It's a downward spiral - the more people leave, the fewer are left to pay the outstanding debts and taxes. Taxes for which Puerto Ricans currently receive no federal representation, I might add.
Anyway, the problem was that the Federal oversight body had already forced Puerto Rico into austerity mode as a response to the bankruptcy. Only now they'll need massive amounts of money they don't have, both for immediate relief efforts and long-term needs to rebuild.
On top of all this, there's a big problem looming over everything - a little thing called the Jones Act, an archaic WWI-era law still legally in force, which states that all (ocean?) shipping within US territory must use US-made and US-flagged boats, crewed only by American citizens. As a result, the cost to ship a standard container to Kingston, Jamaica from the US is about $1000, but to Puerto Rico it's well over $3000 (!). While you've probably never heard of it (I only learned about it today), it's quite well known in Puerto Rico and they've obviously been pleading for it to be repealed for ages.
In previous disasters in American Caribbean territory, the Jones Act has at least been suspended, but this has not yet happened for Puerto Rico, so it's already hideously draining relief efforts. It's not at all clear that even half-way adequate relief efforts are underway.
Puerto Rico could well wind up as badly off as Haiti suffered after their recent disasters. On top of everything else, if things really are that bad, the survivors will be fleeing for the mainland as fast as they can, only worsening the tax/debt problem.
Donate some money if you can because, man do they ever need it, and also call your congresscritter to get them to suspend (or better yet repeal) the Jones Act.
If you're going to pitch it you need to pitch it at an angle. Go tell your nearest Dem that this is a golden opportunity to prove their non-uselessness; if they can get the Deplorable bloc to budge on this, then there's hope for them yet. Also, vice versa.
1. Power's out. We're not seeing video of what's happening down there and we're not getting firsthand reports from the people who live there.
2. It's a remote locale with a sense of exoticism to it. Some people don't know it's part of the US at all, and even those who do don't usually think of it when they think of places in the US. It's easier for Americans to think of this as a disaster in a foreign land and compartmentalize it the same way they do, say, the earthquakes in Mexico.
We've gotten used to living in a world where everybody carries a video camera in their pocket and can instantly share information with everybody in the world. That's not operative here. We need the traditional press down there, with generators and satellite linkups and whatever they can manage, covering this shit wall-to-wall like they did NOLA; I realize that it's not easy to get down there and that aid and evacuation are priorities, but better press coverage is probably the best way to put pressure on politicians to step up aid and evacuation.
Yahoo: more information, including McCain hammering away at the administration over the issue
Good on him.
Mongrel wrote:Trump isn't suspending the Jones Act for Puerto Rico.
He finally caved.
That Churchill quote about Americans doing the right thing only after they've tried everything else really does have the current administration pegged. It's actually kind of hopeful, in an incredibly frustrating way.
They're also not accepting payment right now.
The payments are only required when the State Department evacuates people from non-US territory (and is waived in some cases, mostly related to medical emergencies). The policy doesn't apply to Puerto Rico at all and existing domestic disaster relief legislation specifically includes Puerto Rico with the mainland states.