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Shania Green | The All State

Donald Trump neglects responsibilities to U.S. territory in long-term crisis

Our current president is most remarkable in his total disregard and irresponsibility towards our fellow citizens of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico suffering after category 4 Hurricane Maria slammed into the island on Sept. 20, 2017.

As stated on kff.org, Puerto Rico had 3.41 million residents as of July 2016  prior to the storm, which made landfall with winds at speeds of 150 mph, destroying an already debilitated power grid.

The resulting catastrophic damage to the grid plunged the island residents into darkness, especially those living in remote locations.

The entire population of Puerto Rico was without power and without access to fresh drinking water.

Entire neighborhoods were destroyed, their houses left in tatters and many more left without any remaining possessions or family. Even now, there are many people in the same situation as they were four months ago, without adequate shelter, clean drinking water, and other basic necessities and still live in blackout conditions.

The egregious failure of our current president to adequately provide leadership in the facilitation of aid and resources to the residents of Puerto Rico is further illustration of his lack of compassion or sympathy to those suffering the effects of Hurricane Maria.

As per the Stafford Act, according to fema.gov, the president is the only person with ultimate responsibility in dire situations where disaster response agencies are commanded to direct personnel and resources.

In this direct role, presidential pressure could have been applied to local governors in order to push them to keep up-to-date casualty and fatality figures.

Furthermore, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been overwhelmed and woefully inadequate in helping provide shelter, displaced food, clean drinking water and medical aid to those in need according to USA .

This is further compounded by the challenging issue of attempting restoration while there are residents who are still under emergency status, that is, without power or basic shelter; 450+ people are living in shelters.

According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, there have been over 250,000 Puerto Ricans who have left the island and arrived in Florida since the hurricane. There was a surge of migrants from Puerto Rico leaving the island for job opportunities in the U.S. prior to the hurricane, which was due to the economic recession.

Puerto Rico’s economic resources were already depleted before Hurricane Maria hit the island.

After the hurricane, this migration pattern was exacerbated even further. According to The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at the City University of New York, it is estimated that Puerto Rico will lose 470,000+ residents by 2019, which is essentially 14 percent of its population.

After the figurative dust settles, Republicans may ultimately be haunted by political repercussions; Puerto Rican residents do not have Congressional votes.

However, once they migrate to the mainland U.S., they are able to cast votes just like any other citizen born on the mainland.

The president’s nonchalant and dismissive attitude towards the struggle of Puerto Ricans could come back to haunt him.

Once these aforementioned hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have fled the island, they could potentially vent their frustrations by voting for the opposition during the midterm elections.

About Joseph A. Palmer

Joseph A. Palmer is a senior Communication Arts major and serves as the News Editor and Multimedia Editor of The All State.

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