Imagine being in the dark; and, friends, I’m talking pitch black dark. Can’t see one thing in front of you even once your eyes have adjusted to the dark. The image that just popped into your head is exactly what the people of Puerto Rico experienced up until this past Monday.
One week ago, on September 20, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but Maria’s impact hit Puerto Rico the most; leaving them without power, no gas, killing 16 people. People are homeless, having to live out of shelters. They depend on the sunlight to get through the day; they have no way of communicating with the outside world in the ways that Houston and Florida did when Hurricanes Irma and Harvey hit. So why have we as Americans been neglecting fellow Americans?
Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States when Spain lost the Spanish-American War in 1898 and—more or less—handed Puerto Rico to us. Guam was also included in that trade, and both were granted United States citizenship in 1917 as an unincorporated territory, meaning that it is controlled by the U.S. government which is not part of the U.S. In layman’s terms, Puerto Rico is a part of the United States and citizens that are born here are American citizens; they have the same rights as any other U.S. citizen. The only thing that Puerto Ricans cannot do is vote for a president. What is even more baffling than Puerto Rico being without power, lack of communication and practically being neglected by their own country? Half of Americans not even knowing that Puerto Ricans are Americans. While 54% of the U.S. know that Puerto Ricans are citizens, 47% do not. Why is that? Did they not pay attention in history class? My guess is no, they did not.
Hurricane Maria is the strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in over a century. There are 11,000 people being held up in 174 shelters. Nearly half of the population (1.5 million of 3.5 million) are without drinking water; they have to drink from a river just to have some source of clean water. There are 69 hospitals on the island and 58 of them are without fuel or power at this point. Health officials are worried that the massive flooding surrounding the area could lead to mosquitoes or an outbreak of disease. These people, our fellow Americans, have no way of reaching out to the mainland (which in case you were wondering: that’s US!). People were so ready to help out with hurricane relief when Houston and Florida were hit by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, but because Puerto Rico is not on the mainland, everyone is just silent. These are our fellow Americans. If this country is so big on “no man left behind,” then why are we leaving Puerto Rico to pick up the pieces of this horrendous hurricane by themselves? Donate. Please. Instead of scrolling through Facebook or scrolling through your phone knowing that no one is hitting your line at all, click on one of these links below and donate to the Hurricane Maria relief fund. It could be your good deed of the day. At least you know that you are helping people who are having to pick up the pieces and repair their homes by themselves. Spread the word in the same way that word was spread for Houston and Florida. I’ll say it one more time: Puerto Ricans are Americans, too. And right now, they need us to help them rebuild.
How to donate:
- United for Puerto Rico (http://prfaa.pr.gov/unitedforpuertorico/)
- Support UNICEF’s USA Hurricane Relief Efforts in Puerto Rico (http://www.unicefusa.org/donate/support-unicef-usas-hurricane-relief-efforts-puerto-rico/32952)
- One America Appeal (http://www.oneamericaappeal.org)
- All Hands Volunteers (Http://www.hands.org/projects/usvi-hurricane-irma-hurricane-maria)
- Americares (http://www.americares.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI9ouMvcTF1gIVwySGCh0Vww9jEAAYASAAEgI1-vD_BwE)
- Catholic Relief Services (http://www.crs.org/media-center/news-release/hurricane-irma-hurricane-maria)
- Direct Relief (http://www.directrelief.org/2017/09/with-medicine-a-critical-need-in-puerto-rico-direct-relief-responds-with-key-aid/)
- Save the Children (http://secure.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGlpl4E/b.9535647/k.A2B9/Hurricane_Maria_Childrens_Relief_Fund/apps/ka/sd/donor.asp)