After hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria; much of the southeast United States has been left in shambles. However, that is nothing compared to what these strong hurricanes have done to Puerto Rico and other islands in that area. The expenses after these powerful storms are expected to be approximately 80 billion dollars, and it will likely be decades before the islands affected are restored.
Hurricane Harvey first swept through the Gulf of Mexico in mid- August of 2017. It lasted until early September as a category four hurricane. A few weeks later, in late August, Hurricane Irma formed. Irma lasted until mid- September, as a category five hurricane. Almost immediately after, from mid- September to early October, Hurricane Maria, also a category five, made its way through the Gulf and brought destruction to all the islands there.
Some of the islands that were destroyed by Maria belong to the U.S. For instance, Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and it has been nearly completely destroyed. Puerto Ricans are left without power, and with limited access to clean water, food, and supplies. The island is unsafe and insanitary. People have little medical access across the island, and the access that they do have is not safe. Puerto Ricans have very few resources to use, and many people have died because of this.
In Puerto Rico, 26 people are confirmed to have been killed directly by Hurricane Maria. Another 25 were confirmed to have died as an indirect result of Maria, totalling 51 deaths. Hundreds more are left missing. Many people are left without shelter, and it is estimated that that 800,000 Puerto Ricans are left without power, which is about one fifth of the island’s population.
Because the island is inconveniently located, it is very hard to get resources to Puerto Rico. It is also difficult to distribute supplies around the island once they get there because of the level of damage the storms have created. Both of these things make it very hard to distribute food, water, and fuel around the island. However, the United States government has only given Puerto Rico about 36.5 billion dollars, which is less than half that of the approximate cost of total destruction.
Puerto Rico already has little government funding. They are a territory belonging to the U.S., but they do not have rights to vote. Many American citizens have requested that the government grant Puerto Rico more funding, but officials disagree. Donald Trump has said that Puerto Rico owes a “massive debt” to the U.S., and does not feel that more work needs to be done to help them.
President Trump tweeted on October 8, “Nobody could have done what I’ve done for #PuertoRico with so little appreciation. So much work!”